For years, medical researchers have tried to determine if a link exists between coffee, tea and soft drink consumption and colon cancer.
Part of the question has been put to rest – at least for the moment. It will come as good news for those who enjoy tea and coffee. As for soft drinks – well, it’s still hard to tell.
A team from Harvard School of Public Health poured over about a dozen research projects from North America and Europe before announcing their conclusions. The research team was led by Dr. Xuehong Zhang.
Researchers investigated results from more than 730,000 people scattered around the entire planet, during a time frame that covered between six and twenty years. 5,600 eventually developed colon cancer. Researchers reported that factors related to average amount of alcohol consumed, smoking and gender had negligible impact on the results.
The results of the study, which were announced in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, seem to conclude that people who drink coffee daily – even four or more cups – have no higher chance of developing colon cancer than other people who don’t drink coffee at all.
Devotees of tea – those who drink more than 32 ounces a day – received good news too – although it wasn’t quite as positive as the news for coffee lovers. The risk for tea drinkers was slightly higher than it was for those who drank approximately the same amount of coffee.
Conclusions were harder to draw where sugary sodas were concerned.
Sugary sodas have long been known to contribute to obesity. Obesity is a cause of a variety of interconnected conditions and diseases, and it’s virtually impossible to separate colon cancer from all the others.
Researchers noted that getting pure data was difficult in this study due to the huge scope and size of populations being investigated. Choices and volumes of beverages varied tremendously.
Research done before the Harvard study into a possible relationship between certain popular drinks and colon cancer produced inconsistent findings.
According to the American Cancer Society, slightly more than one hundred thousand people are diagnosed with colon cancer each year in the U.S. alone. About half that number of new rectal cancer cases are diagnosed. Colorectal cancer ranks third on the list of most frequently diagnosed cancer cases. It is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths, totaling about 50,000.
Happily, the percentage of deaths has been falling in the last 20 years. There are a number of likely reasons for this..
One is that colon polyps – which are fleshy formations in the colon that may be pre-cancerous – are being found by screening and removed before they can develop into cancer.
Screening is also allowing more colorectal cancers to be found earlier when the disease is easier to cure.
There is also greater public awareness of the dangers of colorectal cancer, which was something that was rarely discussed or publicized for many years.
Finally, medical science has made great strides in the treatment of colon cancer. More and more individuals now survive the disease than could have been possible in previous years. As a result, there are now more than 1 million survivors of colorectal cancer in the United States.
Doctors say we should all be proactive about colon health as we get older. Regular colon cancer detection tests – like a colonoscopy – are strongly suggested for everyone who is 50 years of age or older.
Meanwhile, in the case of tea and coffee, it appears you can have all you want without having to worry about raising your chances of getting colon cancer.