No link between caffeine and breast cancer

Submitted by on Jan 2, 2011

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Researchers from Harvard Medical School and Tokyo Women’s Medical University have reported that consumption of caffeine and caffeinated beverages and foods was not statistically significantly associated with overall risk of breast cancer.


Caffeine is the most frequently consumed drug today in the world. It is found in coffee, tea, chocolate, and some medications as well.  There has been opinion that consumption of coffee, in large amounts, may increase the risk of developing breast cancer. In the United States breast cancer is diagnosed in nearly 200,000 women yearly. With such a high instance, researchers are evaluating ways in which to lessen the risk of developing breast cancer, and ways in which individuals can alter their lifestyle choices to reduce their risks.

A relationship between caffeine and breast complications was established when women with non-cancerous breast disease gave up caffeine from their diets and were subsequently relieved from their symptoms. That finding led researchers to assume that caffeine may increase the risk of breast cancer.

Consuming caffeine was associated with a 68 percent increased risk of estrogen receptor–negative and progesterone receptor–negative breast cancer, or tumors to which the hormones estrogen and progesterone do not bind, and a 79 percent increased risk for breast tumors larger than 2 centimeters.

To know the legitimacy a study was carried out by Ken Ishitani, M.D., Ph.D., of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, and Tokyo Women’s Medical University, Japan, and colleagues.  They studied 38,432 women 45 years or older who provided dietary information in 1992-1995. Over an average of 10 years of follow-up, 1,188 of the women developed invasive breast cancer.

Participants primarily drank coffee (81.3%), although tea (10%), diet cola (5.6%), regular cola (1.2%), and chocolate (0.3%) also contributed to their daily caffeine consumption.

Most women reported either never drinking coffee (24.1%) or two to three cups a day (32.8%). About 15% were in the highest intake category with at least four cups a day.

However, for women with a history of benign breast disease, there was a borderline significant elevation in breast cancer risk with the highest caffeine intake (RR 1.32, 95% CI 0.99 to 1.76) and with at least four cups of coffee per day (RR 1.35, 95% CI 1.01 to 1.80).

The researchers compared the caffeine intake of women who developed breast cancer to the caffeine intake of women who didn’t develop breast cancer. The authors write “Consumption of caffeine and caffeinated drinks and foods was not statistically significantly associated with overall risk of breast cancer.” The way the caffeine was consumed (in coffee, tea, cola, or chocolate) also didn’t have any effect on risk.

The researchers also found slight increases in risk among women with a history of non-cancerous breast disease who consumed large amounts of caffeine daily. Still, this increase also was likely due to chance and not due to caffeine consumption.

While there seems to be no link between caffeine and breast cancer risk, other diet and lifestyle choices can affect your risk of breast cancer.

(This is a sample post created by our Freelance Writers) –  Post Written by Freelance Writer – Vinay Grover for InteractMD Website.

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