Texas AgriLife scientists have found that drinking coffee may protect you against colon cancer.
A compound in coffee, called trigonelline, or trig, mimics the hormone estrogen and may stop the development of colon cancer. Indian communities have also used coffee for years to help ease the symptoms of post-menopausal women, who get the same benefits from coffee as they would from estrogen hormone replacement therapy. The trig compound’s potential as a treatment for colon cancer has researchers pretty excited.
"We’re seeing very interesting information as far as tumor formation and the ability of phytoestrogens to prevent colon cancer formation. So any other new, natural phytoestrogen that we are able to identify and relate to the diet that would be the model we’d bring it in to,” Dr. Clinton Allred, lead scientist, said of possible future studies on trig.
The team’s idea is to develop a new drug therapy using the coffee compound that would specifically target the colon tissue without affecting other areas of the body. The reason why they would like the therapy to be targeted is because estrogen can trigger some other types of cancer if they are hormone dependent, for instance, breast cancer. They would want the drug to work at treating colon cancer without the risk of it causing a different cancer.
"It’s really important for us to come up with strategies that we can have the benefits in the colon without the risks associated with (estrogenic compounds),” said Dr. Allred.
You should not supplement with coffee if you have a family history of breast cancer or if you’ve ever had breast cancer in the past because it could theoretically contribute to a resurgence of the cancer. Doctors are not yet aware how much coffee you’d have to drink for this to cause a risk, however, and an occasional cup is not thought to cause a problem.If you’re thinking of supplementing with coffee, you should also consider the other health issues associated with it such as caffeine effects, effect on absorption of vitamins, blood pressure issues and fat content of the coffee.