Through the years, there have been a number of studies done attempting to determine if there’s a link between the amount of coffee, tea or soft drinks you consume and your risk of getting colorectal cancer

It seems part of the question may have been answered – at least for the time being. The news is positive for coffee and tea drinkers, and uncertain for those who love sugary sodas.

Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health, led by Dr. Xuehong Zhang, examined more than a dozen separate studies in reaching their conclusions. The studies were conducted in North America and Europe.

Researchers investigated results from more than 700,000 people scattered around the world, covering between six and twenty years. Cancer of the colon was eventually diagnosed in approximately seven-tenths of one percent of the subjects. Researchers reported that factors related to alcohol consumption, smoking and gender had little impact on their findings.

The results of the study, which were announced in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, appear to indicate that coffee lovers who drink a lot of coffee every day – even four cups or more – have the same chance of developing colon cancer than those who don’t drink coffee at all.

The news was also good – though not quite as good – for those who drink a lot of tea – 32 ounces a day or more. Their risk of getting colon cancer was slightly higher than those who drank a lot 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.

Given the huge scope and size of the population studies, choices and volumes of beverages ran the gamut. Therefore, getting pure data was difficult.

Investigations into a possible relationship between colon cancer and popular drinks before the Harvard study produced inconclusive or inconsistent results.

According to the American Cancer Society, slightly more than 100,000 people are found to have colon cancer each year in the United States 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, totalling around 50,000.

Happily, the percentage of deaths has been dropping in the last 20 years. A number of factors have probably influenced this decrease.

One reason is that polyps – which sometimes become malignant – are being detected in greater numbers because there are more screening programs available.

Screening is also allowing more colorectal cancers to be found earlier when treatment can be more effective.

In addition, there has been much more media attention given to the dangers of colorectal cancer lately. For years, colorectal cancer was known as “the disease no one talked about.” That has changed.

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 years past. As a result, there are now more than 1 million colorectal cancer survivors in the United States.

Doctors say everyone should take steps to protect colon health as we age. Regular colon cancer detection tests – like a colonoscopy – are a good idea for everyone who is 50 years of age or older.

Meanwhile, as far as coffee and tea are concerned, it appears you can have all you want without having to worry about raising your chances of getting colon cancer.

Neal Kennedy is a former radio and television talk show host who often writes on topics related to colon cancer and colonoscopy information. To read more of his articles, visit Colon Health at