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Does coffee help you get through the day? If so, you may be poised to live a longer, healthier life thanks to these truly magical beans
Coffee, one of the world's most popular beverages, is a panacea of potential health benefits. Loaded with antioxidants, coffee has been shown to imbue anti-inflammatory properties and disease protection when consumed in moderation.[i] But you don't have to stop at just one cup. Thanks to a recent study, coffee's known benefits have been given a ringing endorsement -- benefits that may increase with each cup you drink.
Researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute published a large observational study[ii] nested within a clinical trial of novel drug treatments for patients with colorectal cancer. The study, published in the journal JAMA Oncology, analyzed dietary patterns and long-term health outcomes for a cohort of patients who had completed phase 3 of the randomized clinical trial sponsored by the National Cancer Institute.
Coffee Gets a Boost From Science
Data were collected from more than 1,500 patients being treated for advanced or metastatic colorectal cancer. Dietary intake and lifestyle questionnaires were obtained during and post-treatment, then correlated and analyzed for patterns over time.
Specific analysis of coffee intake was included, with participants being excluded from the coffee cohort for aberrant caloric intake (<600 or >4200 kcal for men; <500 or >3500 kcal for women) and if cancer had worsened or death had occurred within 90 days of enrollment. Final data analysis was performed on information from 1,171 patients.
The study results provide a real boost for coffee drinkers. Patients who reported drinking two to three cups of coffee a day were likely to live longer overall and had a longer time before their disease worsened compared to those who didn't drink coffee. In good news for the caffeine-sensitive, the anticancer benefits were observed in both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee drinkers.
These results confirmed the findings of prior studies on coffee's effects on cancer[iii] and add scientific weight to coffee's growing reputation as a disease-fighting superfood. But can more of a good thing be too much?
Another Cup of Coffee? Just Say Yes
Despite such promising research findings, many believe that drinking multiple cups of coffee each day can lead to ill health. For individuals with caffeine sensitivities, moderation should be exercised. That being said, for the colorectal cancer patients enrolled in this study, the benefits increased the more coffee they consumed.
The impressive life-extending and cancer-delaying benefits were observed at two to three cups daily, however the greatest measure of benefit was observed in patients who consumed four or more cups each day.[iv]
Researchers posit that these benefits may be related to coffee's ability to decrease blood insulin levels by sensitizing tissues to the effects of insulin, or to coffee's antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antiangiogenic (tumor-inhibiting) effects.[v]
Coffee's Impressive Anticancer Effects
While this study highlights the association between daily coffee consumption and improved outcomes in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer, the authors point out that association does not equal causation and further study is needed to determine if there is a causal relationship.
According to senior author, Dr. Kimmie Ng, "Although it is premature to recommend a high intake of coffee as a potential treatment for colorectal cancer, our study suggests that drinking coffee is not harmful and may potentially be beneficial."[vi]
In metastatic forms of cancer, cancer cells break away from the original tumor site and migrate, via the blood or lymphatic system, to form new tumors in other parts of the body.[vii] Since coffee's anticancer effects have been demonstrated on a variety of different cancers, including colorectal, liver, breast, head and neck cancers,[viii] its potential as an anticancer treatment is attracting attention from researchers.
A meta-analysis examining coffee consumption and colorectal cancer risk detected a significant protective effect from coffee in seven U.S. studies.[ix] But the health benefits of coffee don't stop there; it may offer a veil of protection for both body and mind.
Drink Coffee for Disease Prevention and Longer Life
Coffee consumption was the focus of a meta-analysis of the PubMed and Web of Science research databases through March 2019 reviewing 40 studies involving nearly 4 million individuals. Researchers found that intakes of around 3.5 cups of coffee per day lowered the risk of all-cause mortality, results that were irrespective of age, weight, alcohol consumption, smoking status and caffeine content of the coffee.[x]
Another impressive benefit of coffee involves its ability to stabilize the body's insulin response. In a meta-analysis published in the American Diabetes Association's Diabetes Care journal, which included 28 studies involving more than 1.1 million people, coffee consumption was shown to be inversely associated with the risk of Type 2 diabetes, another effect that was dose-dependent and applied to both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee types.[xi]
Coffee: Good for Energy and Mood
While the energy-boosting effects of coffee are legendary, did you know that coffee can also improve your mood? A 2011 study showed that coffee can stimulate the release of dopamine, the neurotransmitter associated with enhanced mood effects, in the brain.[xii]
Don't like the taste of coffee? Not to worry -- there are other ways to infuse your body with coffee's mood-enhancing properties. In a randomized clinical trial published in the peer-reviewed journal, Advances in Mind Body Medicine, patients seeking mood support for moderate depression were administered coffee enemas as part of a detoxification strategy aimed at enhancing mood and reducing protracted withdrawal symptoms from psychotropic medication tapering.
At the end of the 44-day lifestyle-modification program, patients reported a 50% reduction in symptoms, with coffee enemas being credited for alleviating acute withdrawal symptoms by helping to synthesize glutathione, a potent antioxidant that plays a critical role in cellular detoxification functions.[xiii] To learn more about the holistic benefits of coffee, explore the scientific abstracts on GreenMedInfo.com.
[i] Mackintosh C, Yuan C, Ou F, et al. Association of Coffee Intake With Survival in Patients With Advanced or Metastatic Colorectal Cancer. JAMA Oncol. 2020;6(11):1713-1721. doi: 10.1001/jamaoncol.2020.3938
[ii] Mackintosh C, Yuan C, Ou F, et al. Association of Coffee Intake With Survival in Patients With Advanced or Metastatic Colorectal Cancer. JAMA Oncol. 2020;6(11):1713-1721. doi: 10.1001/jamaoncol.2020.3938
[iii] Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. "Coffee associated with improved survival in metastatic colorectal cancer patients." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 September 2020. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/09/200917181251.htm.
[iv] Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. "Coffee associated with improved survival in metastatic colorectal cancer patients." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 September 2020. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/09/200917181251.htm.
[v] Mackintosh C, Yuan C, Ou F, et al. Association of Coffee Intake With Survival in Patients With Advanced or Metastatic Colorectal Cancer. JAMA Oncol. 2020;6(11):1713-1721. doi: 10.1001/jamaoncol.2020.3938
[vi] Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. "Coffee associated with improved survival in metastatic colorectal cancer patients." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 September 2020. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/09/200917181251.htm.
[viii] Susan M Gapstur, Rebecca L Anderson, Peter T Campbell, Eric J Jacobs, Terryl J Hartman, Janet S Hildebrand, Ying Wang, Marjorie L McCullough. Associations of Coffee Drinking and Cancer Mortality in the Cancer Prevention Study-II. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2017 Jul 27. Epub 2017 Jul 27. PMID: 28751477
[ix] Susan M Gapstur, Rebecca L Anderson, Peter T Campbell, Eric J Jacobs, Terryl J Hartman, Janet S Hildebrand, Ying Wang, Marjorie L McCullough. Associations of Coffee Drinking and Cancer Mortality in the Cancer Prevention Study-II. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2017 Jul 27. Epub 2017 Jul 27. PMID: 28751477
[x] Youngyo Kim, Youjin Je, Edward Giovannucci. Coffee consumption and all-cause and cause-specific mortality: a meta-analysis by potential modifiers. Eur J Epidemiol. 2019 May 4. Epub 2019 May 4. PMID: 31055709
[xi] Caffeinated and Decaffeinated Coffee Consumption and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: A Systematic Review and a Dose-Response Meta-analysis. Ming Ding, Shilpa N. Bhupathiraju, Mu Chen, Rob M. van Dam, Frank B. Hu Diabetes Care. Feb 2014, 37 (2) 569-586; DOI: 10.2337/dc13-1203
[xii] J Walker, B Rohm, R Lang, M W Pariza, T Hofmann, V Somoza. Identification of coffee components that stimulate dopamine release from pheochromocytoma cells (PC-12). Food Chem Toxicol. 2011 Oct 13. Epub 2011 Oct 13. PMID: 22019894
[xiii] KellyBroganMd.com, Psychotropic Drug Withdrawal and Holistic Tapering Strategies: A Case Series. https://kellybroganmd.com/wpcontent/uploads/2016/02/PsychotropicDrugWithdrawal.pdf