For many, there’s nothing better than a nice, steaming hot cup of joe to start the day, but do coffee and other hot beverages increase cancer risk? And how do they interact with the body when you are fighting pancreatic cancer?

We posed these questions to Maria Petzel, senior clinical dietitian at MD Anderson Cancer Center and a member of the Scientific and Medical Advisory Board at the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN).

“Coffee’s bad reputation probably links back to a study published in 1981 that said consuming coffee can increase cancer risk,” Petzel said. “Much more research has been conducted and has found that coffee (and tea) do not increase risk of pancreatic cancer.”

This sentiment is echoed by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), which found in a study that these hot beverages have no effect on cancer risk.

“AICR’s 2012 report, ‘The Prevention of Pancreatic Cancer’ states there was enough evidence to conclude that drinking coffee – both decaffeinated and caffeinated – has no effect on risk.”

The AICR also pointed out that while coffee does not increase risk, it’s important for patients to be aware of the additives that can be found in specialty drinks.

“Evaluating beverage choices can help reduce added sugar and fat consumption. Many specialty coffee, chai tea, dairy-based frozen drinks or smoothies contain a lot of sugar and some added fat.”

Petzel added that cancer patients may actually benefit from hot beverages because they aid in digestion.

For patients with mild or chronic constipation, hot liquids may be helpful for bowel management.”

For more information about diet and nutrition, including our booklet with specific information for pancreatic cancer patients, contact a Patient Central Associate.

Come back each week for more of the Friday Fix. Last week’s article was Dietary Plans for Whipple Recipients.