Guest article by Sam Hadadi,
Whether your morning brew of choice is an espresso, a bullet coffee or a (coconut) latte, the message is clear – drink it up.
Earlier this year, scientists discovered that one of the perks of coffee was that it could slash our risk of MS. And now, we’ve found even more music to bring to the ears of coffee lovers up and down the country.
A new study by researchers at the University of Southern California (USC) has shown that this humble drink can reduce the chance of you developing colorectal cancer. In fact (and here’s where it gets really good for the coffee lovers among you) the more you drink, the lower your risk of bowel and rectal cancers - some of the most common causes of cancer in the country.
The study looked at around 5,100 men and women – all of whom had been diagnosed with colorectal cancer within the past six months - along with a control group of 4,000 men and women, with no history of colorectal cancer.
Throughout the research, participants were asked to log their daily consumption of espresso, instant, decaf and filtered coffee, as well as any other drinks they consumed. Researchers also gathered together plenty of other information, including anything that could influence the risk of developing colorectal cancer - think family history, diet, physical activity and smoking.
So, what did the researchers discover? Stephen Gruber, the senior author of this study, said: "We found that drinking coffee is associated with lower risk of colorectal cancer and the more coffee consumed, the lower the risk.”
To go into a little more detail, the study showed that even moderate coffee consumption (that’s between one to two cups a day) saw the chance of developing colorectal cancer plummet by 26 percent.
If you drink more than this, then there’s even better news! Researchers found that drinking 2.5 cups or more a day can see your risk of these cancers fall by up to 50 per cent – even if you’re drinking decaf.
Gruber added: "We were somewhat surprised to see that caffeine did not seem to matter. This indicates that caffeine alone is not responsible for coffee's protective properties."
So, why the impressive results? Well, scientists think that those incredible antioxidants found in coffee could boost colorectal health and prevent future illnesses.
Caffeine and polyphenol can both act as antioxidants, which then limit the growth of potential colon cancer cells. What’s more, melanoidins formed during the roasting process could also encourage colon mobility, while diterpenes can boost the body's defense against oxidative damage.
While drinking coffee is known to help strengthen our body and fight illnesses – and leave us with plenty of rocket fuel for the day ahead – the benefits all depend on the quality of the coffee you’re drinking.
Stephanie Schmit, who worked on this study, said: "The levels of beneficial compounds per serving of coffee vary depending on the bean, roast and brewing method.
"The good news is that our data presents a decreased risk of colorectal cancer regardless of what flavor or form of coffee you prefer."
Of course, as with most studies, more research needs to be done to prove anything just yet. Especially before you go running for the coffee machine, ready to knock back cup after cup.
As Gruber said: "…we need additional research before advocating for coffee consumption as a preventive measure. That being said, there are few health risks to coffee consumption, I would encourage coffee lovers to revel in the strong possibility that their daily mug may lower their risk of colorectal cancer."
We like to think that our morning (and afternoon) mug of coffee can boost the body, right from the outside in. In fact, for this reason, we like to call our coffee the elixir of life!
As well as being found to prevent colorectal cancers, coffee has also been shown to lower our risk of MS1, send energy levels soaring and boost performance in sports. Amazingly, coffee is also one of the biggest sources of antioxidants in the Western diet, making it ideal to help us fight all sorts of diseases and conditions.
However, remember to cut back on coffee as much as possible if you’re expecting a baby, or even if you’re trying to conceive since it can affect fertility levels.
Want to know more? We’ve written this fascinating article on anything you could ever hope to know about your beloved drink. Here is our definitive Lucy Bee guide to everything coffee.
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Sam Hadadi is an ex-BBC journalist and now a freelance writer specialising in fitness and food.