The good news keeps coming for coffee drinkers. Scientists say there’s now evidence that coffee lowers the risk of colorectal cancer, just one more for the pile of reasons caffeine fanatics can point to when talking about this incredible super-beverage. To recap: Coffee may also reduce cancer in the liver, fix erectile dysfunction, and basically make you live longer.
For this latest study, published today in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a team at USC examined more than 5,000 people recently diagnosed with the disease. They tracked daily consumption of every kind of coffee — from espresso to instant and decaf — along other dietary habits, plus maintained data on subjects’ exercise regimens, how much they smoked and drank, and their family histories with the disease. Only coffee had any positive effect on cancer, and researchers say it occurred “regardless of what flavor or form of coffee you prefer.” The one variable was the amount of coffee consumed, but that’s actually also good news because the tie was that the more participants drank, the more effective it seemed to be. (A cup or two a day meant the odds of cancer dropped by 26 percent, but people who had even two and a half cups cut theirs by 50 percent.)
Since the link held true for both decaf and regular, the authors say it could be because of other chemicals in coffee like polyphenol (an antioxidant that might neutralize potential cancer cells), melanoidins (compounds from the roasting process linked to a lot of great stuff), and diterpenes (something that could prevent cancer by helping the body fight “oxidative damage”). Scientists almost never say X causes Y, but the lead author here gets real close: “We need additional research before advocating for coffee consumption as a preventive measure,” he says. “That being said, there I would encourage coffee lovers to revel in the strong possibility that their daily mug may lower their risk of colorectal cancer.”