Coffee is the drink of choice in America — about 83 percent of adults consume the beverage in the United States. Generally, researchers agree coffee provides more benefits than risks, and a new piece of research adds to the weight of evidence.

A study out of the University of Southern California (USC) Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center of Leck Medicine says drink up: coffee consumption decreases the risk of colorectal cancer. Researchers took a look at data from over 5,100 men and women, all of whom had been diagnosed with colorectal cancer within the past six months and compared them to 4,000 people with no history of this cancer. Participants reported their daily coffee consumption—espresso, instant, decaffeinated, and filtered—along with their total consumption of other beverages.

Researchers also asked for information about other factors that can influence colorectal cancer, including family history, physical activity, smoking, and diet.

“We found that drinking coffee is associated with lower risk of colorectal cancer, and the more coffee consumed, the lower the risk,” said Dr. Stephen Gruber, director of the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and senior author of the study.

Even just moderate consumption helped ward off cancer, according to the study. Between one to two servings of coffee per day was associated with a 26 percent reduction in the odds of developing colorectal cancer. The risk continued to decrease up to 50 percent when participants were heavy coffee drinkers, consuming more than 2.5 servings each day. This trend was persistent, even after researchers controlled for other known risk factors. Interestingly, both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee were associated with decreased risk.

“We were somewhat surprised to see that caffeine did not seem to matter,” Gruber said. “This indicates that caffeine alone is not responsible for coffee’s protective properties.”

Coffee contains several elements that could be responsible, in whole or in part, for aiding colorectal health. Caffeine and polyphenol, which both act as antioxidants, limit the potential growth of cancer cells. Diterpenes enhance the body’s defenses against oxidative damage, which may contribute to cancer prevention, and some say melanoidins, generated during coffee’s roasting process, may encourage colon mobility.

“The levels of beneficial compounds per serving of coffee may vary depending on the bean, roast and brewing method,” Explained first author Dr. Stephanie Schmit. “The good news is that our data presents a decreased risk of colorectal cancer regardless of what flavor or form of coffee you prefer.”

It’s lucky coffee is so ubiquitous, since colorectal cancer is as well. Colorectal is the third most common cancer in both sexes in the U.S. — five percent of men and four percent of women will develop the disease during their lifetime. Gruber cautions against advocating for coffee as a preventative measure too soon though, saying more research needs to be done.

“That being said, there are few health risks to coffee consumption, I would encourage coffee lovers to revel in the strong possibility that their daily mug may lower their risk of colorectal cancer.

Source: Schmit S, Rennert H, Rennert G, Gruber S. Coffee Consumption and the Risk of Colorectal Cancer. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. 2016.