Background: Different molecules within coffee may be pro-carcinogenic, while others may have anti-oxidant and anti-neoplastic effects. Hence, it can be hypothesized that coffee may have differing risk associations with specific colorectal cancer (CRC) subtypes. The aim of this study was to evaluate associations between coffee consumption and incident CRC overall, by anatomic subsite, and by molecularly defined tumor subtypes, in the population-based Iowa Women's Health Study (IWHS).

Methods: IWHS participants, ages 55-69 years, provided dietary intake estimates using self-reported food frequency questionnaires at baseline (1986). From 35,216 women included the final analysis, 1298 developed CRC (673 with proximal CRC, 597 with distal CRC) through December 31, 2002 (end of the IWHS molecular epidemiology project study period). Archived, paraffin-embedded tissue specimens for 732 representative CRC cases were collected and analyzed to determine if coffee consumption (none or <1 cup/month, <1 cup/week, 1 cup/day, 2-3 cups/day and ≥4 cups/day) was associated with microsatellite instability (MSI-L/MSS or MSI-H), CpG island methylator phenotype (CIMP-negative or CIMP-positive), BRAF mutation status (BRAF-wildtype or BRAF-mutated), KRAS mutation status (KRAS-wildtype and KRAS-mutated), p53 protein expression level (p53 absent, low or high) and estrogen receptor β protein expression level (ERβ absent, low or high). Multivariable Cox regression models were fit to estimate relative risks (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) with adjustment for age, smoking, alcohol use, diabetes, body mass index and waist-hip ratio, physical activity, estrogen use, dietary intake of fat, calcium, vitamin E, sucrose, red meat and methionine. P-values were not adjusted for multiple testing.

Results: There was no significant difference in the risk of overall (RR, 1.05; 95% CI, 0.85-1.29; Ptrend=0.50), proximal (RR, 0.91; 95% CI, 0.68-1.21; Ptrend=0.57) or distal CRC (RR, 1.18; 95% CI, 0.86-1.64; Ptrend=0.19) in women who consumed ≥4 cups of coffee/day (caffeinated or decaffeinated), as compared to non-consumers. By CRC molecular subtypes for these same two exposure groups, women with ≥4 cups of coffee/day were more likely to develop ERβ-low CRC (RR, 2.98; 95% CI, 1.04-8.51; Ptrend=0.06), though no significant associations were observed for caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee specifically. In contrast, women who consumed ≥4 cups of decaffeinated coffee/day were less likely to develop MSI-L/MSS (RR, 0.57; 95% CI, 0.36-0.92; Ptrend=0.04) and BRAF-WT (RR, 0.69; 95% CI, 0.44-1.06; Ptrend=0.06) CRCs than non-consumers. Women who consumed ≥4 cups of caffeinated coffee/day were also less likely to develop p53-low CRCs (RR, 0.53; 95% CI, 0.24-1.15; Ptrend=0.02). Null associations were observed between decaffeinated coffee consumption and risk of CIMP-, KRAS- and p53- defined CRC subtypes, as well as between caffeinated coffee consumption and risk of MSI-, BRAF-, CIMP- or KRAS-defined CRC subtypes.

Conclusion: In this prospective cohort study of older women, though coffee consumption was not associated with risk of overall or site-specific CRC, unique associations were observed with molecularly defined CRC subtypes, supporting a need for further investigation of the potential pro- and anti-carcinogenic effects of coffee constituents on biologic targets involved in colorectal carcinogenesis.

Citation Format: Siddharth Singh, Robert Vierkant, Lori Tillmans, Alice Wang, Daniel Weisenberger, Peter Laird, Maki Inoue-Choi, Andrea Mariani, Charles Lynch, Kristin Anderson, Amy French, Robert Haile, Lisa Harnack, John Potter, Susan Slager, Thomas Smyrk, Stephen Thibodeau, James Cerhan, Paul Limburg. Coffee consumption and colorectal cancer risk by molecularly defined subtypes in a prospective cohort study of older women. [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the Twelfth Annual AACR International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research; 2013 Oct 27-30; National Harbor, MD. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Can Prev Res 2013;6(11 Suppl): Abstract nr A44.