COMMENTARY

Can Coffee KO Cancer's Return?

David J. Kerr, CBE, MD, DSc, FRCP, FMedSci

Disclosures

January 11, 2016

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Hello. I'm David Kerr, professor of cancer medicine at the University of Oxford. I'd like to discuss a very interesting study that has been produced by Charlie Fuchs and colleagues,[1] which looked at the impact of coffee on reducing recurrence rates of colon cancer.

We know that the recurrence of colon cancer is related to relative hyperinsulinemia. Patients who have a sedentary lifestyle, who sit on their bottoms, who have an increased glycemic load, and who eat too much carbohydrates tend to have higher rates of recurrence. We know that caffeine can increase insulin sensitivity and reduce glycemic load. Therefore, they proposed a hypothesis that coffee drinkers would be at less risk of recurrence than those who don't drink coffee.

It was a large study of initially about 1600 patients. Throughout adjuvant therapy and for 6 months afterwards, they did a detailed prospective study in which they collected a compendium of dietary input, exercise, etc. In this particular study, they looked at intake of caffeinated coffee, decaffeinated coffee, and herbal tea.

What they showed was that patients with colon cancer who took more than four cups of caffeinated coffee/day had a very significant reduction in mortality and recurrence rates. This was not seen in those poor souls, like myself, who drink decaffeinated coffee or in those of us who like the odd cup of herbal tea.

So, there you are. Should we now be recommending, as the thoughtful physicians that we are, that our patients who have undergone a resection of primary tumor and who have completed adjuvant therapy be regularly gulping a minimum of four cups of coffee per day? Clearly, it's a bit early to be able to say that, but it is a very interesting observation. The hazard ratios look fantastic, and they are just about 0.5 in the heavy coffee drinkers.

It's an interesting observation from a good group. Herbal tea was, sadly, just not on the radar screen at all. So get out there and drink coffee like crazy. Thanks for listening. Please make any comments that you wish to. For the time being, Medscapers, over and out.

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