Recent data suggest that a compound in coffee has been found to possibly protect against colon cancer.
We have known for a long time that estrogen can protect against colon cancer and that women who take hormone replacement can also prevent polyps and cancer development. We also have recently seen that women do better than men when younger than 45 years old.
How estrogen can protect is still unclear, However we know that estrogen receptors are expressed in the colon which may be responsible for the estrogen effect. This compound identified in coffee has shown to be estrogenic. These studies are done by Texas AgriLife Research scientists.
We don’t have any data on how much coffee we need to drink to have this effect, but the scientists say the compound, called trigonelline or “trig,” may be a factor in estrogen-dependent breast cancer but beneficial against colon cancer development. These data were published in the Journal of Nutrition.
Dr. Clinton Allred’s lab studies dietary compounds that can mimic the hormone estradiol – the primary hormone in women. His main focus has been to look at how estrogen protects against the development of colon cancer. Estradiol is one of three estrogen hormones.
We have seen data in recent years that modulation of estrogen with soy, which is able to decrease estrogen levels, has an effect on breast cancer and colon cancer, but in opposite ways. Soy can increase breast cancer risk but not the risk of colon cancer, because estrogen can protect against colon cancer.
The data from Dr. Allred show that “trig” is in coffee beans, though in different amounts depending on the variety of coffee bean.
Dr. Allred said,
The more you roast a coffee bean, the less there is. But the most critical aspect is that when you do a water extract of ground coffee, which is basically how you make a cup of coffee. It does in fact come out in the water, so we know it is in a cup of coffee.
We need much more data to better understand what this substance is able to do and what the mechanisms of actions are before we run to Starbucks and order a double latte.