How Your Favorite Morning Habit Just Might Cut Your Cancer Risk
Drink some coffee and your sleepy brain might not be the only part of you that benefits: Coffee may protect your gut from cancer, new research from the University of Southern California discovered.
In the study, people who drank regular or decaf coffee were 26 percent less likely to develop colorectal cancer—the fourth most common type of cancer in the United States—than those who abstained from the beverage.
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And you don’t need to drink gallons of it to make a difference.
People who just drank between one and two servings of coffee a day were 22 percent less likely to get diagnosed with colon cancer than people who drank less than one serving were. Those who consumed more than 2.5 servings of it cut their risk by 54 percent.
Because the link remained when looking at both decaf and regular coffee, the researchers believe another component of coffee besides caffeine is the key.
Compounds called melanoidins—which are formed during the roasting process—may speed up colonic motility, or how quickly food moves through your intestines, says study author Stephen Gruber, M.D., Ph.D.
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And that’s important, because quicker motility reduces the amount of time in which the gut is exposed to potentially-harmful agents, explains study author Stephanie Schmit, Ph.D.
Because of the study’s design, the researchers weren’t able to definitively prove a cause-effect link between coffee and colon cancer reduction.
More research is needed before experts can say for sure that drinking coffee is a solid way to reduce your risk of colon cancer, says Schmit.
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But in the meantime, continue drinking your daily coffee—just make sure to combine it with proven strategies like regular physical activity and a diet high in fruits and vegetables to further protect your gut, she says.