- Those who drank four cups of coffee a day saw their risk of a tumour drop by about 15 per cent
- Tea lovers did not see any reduction in risk
By Pat Hagan
10:51 EST, 28 August 2012 | 10:51 EST, 28 August 2012
Drinking several cups of coffee every day can significantly reduce the risk of bowel cancer, new research shows.
Volunteers who downed four cups a day saw their risk of a tumour drop by about 15 per cent.
But those who got through six or more were up to 40 per cent less likely to fall victim to the disease.
Previous studies have hinted coffee could have a protective effect against bowel cancer, although the findings have been inconclusive
Tea lovers, however, did not see any reduction in risk, scientists said.
More than 40,000 people a year in the UK are diagnosed with bowel cancer.
The disease has a high mortality rate – around 16,000 a year – because many victims ignore early warning signs and only seek medical help once the cancer has advanced.
Diets high in fat and red meat, as well as lack of exercise, are thought to be among the main risk factors.
Some previous studies have hinted coffee could have a protective effect, although the findings have been inconclusive.
In the latest investigation, researchers at the US National Cancer Institute in Rockville, Maryland, looked at nearly 490,000 men and women who took part in a diet and health study from the mid-nineties onwards.
They analysed their eating and drinking habits and compared bowel cancer rates among coffee drinkers and non-drinkers.
The results, published in the latest American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, showed a small but significant fall in tumour risk among those on four to five cups a day. But the greatest benefits were seen when consumption topped half-a-dozen cups a day, with the risk plummeting by almost 40 per cent for certain types of tumour.
Previous studies have suggested five cups of coffee or tea every day could slash the risk of a brain tumour by around 40 per cent.
And Japanese scientists found just one cup a day could nearly halve the risk of dangerous cancers affecting the mouth and gullet.
Dr Euan Paul, Executive Director of the British Coffee Association, said: ‘It is particularly encouraging to see that coffee consumption may lower the risk of bowel cancer given that over 40,000 men and women are diagnosed with it in the UK every year, making it the third most common cancer.’
But he stressed that pregnant women should follow NHS advice to moderate their intake of caffeine to 200mg per day from all sources, as it can increase the risk of miscarriage in high doses.
Caffeine can increase anxiety in some people and can alter your sleep patterns so you are not fully rested. Those suffering these symptoms are recommended to cut down their intake.