High coffee intake linked to lower breast cancer risk

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By David Liu, PHD

Saturday March 30, 2013 (foodconsumer.org) -- A new study in Nutrition and Cancer suggests that drinking lots of coffee may reduce the risk of certain types of breast cancer.  Early studies were inconsistent with some suggesting that drinking coffee lowers the risk of breast cancer.

Elizabeth C. Lowcock from Prevention and Cancer Control, Cancer Care Ontario in Toronto, Canada and colleagues conducted the case-control study and found women drinking more than five cups of coffee per day were 29 percent less likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer.

coffee_845532234.jpgThe association was derived from an analysis of data on coffee consumption and disease from 3,062 cases of breast cancer registered to the Ontarian Cancer Registry and 3,427 controls without the disease.

The study also found that women with high coffee intake were 59 percent less likely to develop estrogen receptors negative (ER-) breast cancer and postmenopausal women with high intake of coffee were 37 percent less likely to contract breast cancer, compared with those who did not drink any.

These associations were valid only for high coffee consumption, but not for total caffeine intake, meaning that caffeine may not be responsible for the reduction in the breast cancer risk.

It should be pointed out that this study did not prove that coffee drinking is the cause for the lower risk of breast cancer among the heavy coffee drinkers, but suggested a possibility.

Wenjie Jiang from the Medical College of Qingdao University of Shandong in Qingdao, PR China and colleagues published a review of 37 published studies suggesting that the association between coffee or caffeine intake and risk of breast cancer was weak if there was any.

However, they found evidence suggesting that frequently drinking coffee may reduce risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women by 6% and in BRCAQ1 mutation carriers by 31 percent.

Further, they found a linear dose-response relationship between coffee drinking and risk of breast cancer, that is, every 2 cups per day of coffee was linked to a 2 percent reduction in breast cancer risk and every 200 mg per day of caffeine was associated with 1 percent reduction in the risk.

One in eight women in the United States are expected to develop breast cancer.  Each year more than 200,000 women in the United States are actually diagnosed with the disease which along with treatment and disease complications kills more than 37,000 annually.

Breast cancer in many cases can be prevented.  An authoritative organization says that two most important risk factors for breast cancer are hormone replacement therapy and medical radiation including x-ray used in mammography  for breast cancer screening although many other factors may also contribute to the development of the disease.

Photo credit: Wikipedia.org

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