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Does coffee cause breast cancer?

Coffee lovers, you have to read this!

Written by Sandhya Raghavan |Published : October 24, 2017 1:36 PM IST

Nothing works like coffee to get you through the day. Despite its somewhat bad reputation for causing addiction and releasing high levels of stress hormones like cortisol, coffee does have some neat health benefits that science confirms. But some time ago, the beverage was vilified for its possible links to cancer risks. The hypothesis was based on the report that fibrocystic breast disease, a risk factor for breast cancer, reduces in intensity when the patient abstains from drinking coffee. This has obviously put us in a quandary, torn between our love for coffee and good health. Don't lose heart. Scientific evidence exonerates coffee and caffeine from all such baselesss allegations. So kick back, brew yourself a pot of coffee and read why it is absolutely OK to have coffee.

The good news

It all started with a study conducted in 19851 and published in the American Journal of Epidemiology. It featured the responses of 2651 women who were newly diagnosed with breast cancer. It concluded that coffee consumption was not associated with an increase in the risk of breast cancer among women with a history of fibrocystic breast disease. The study also emphasised that other caffeinated beverages like tea and decaffeinated coffee were also harmless. Another study published in Gynecologic Oncology as recently as 20132 suggested that the role of coffee and caffeine in increasing breast cancer risk was weak. Obviously, this will make coffee lovers smile. But there's more.

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The great news

While the coffee-breast cancer risk connection has been debunked by studies, today there is evidence that coffee can in fact DECREASE the risk of breast cancer. A 2011 study published in Breast Cancer Research bears better news.3 It said that coffee consumption was associated with a modest decrease in the breast cancer risk among post menopausal women. It's also important to note that the women who participated in the study had a high intake of coffee. Each was known to drink more than five cups of coffee per day. Another one in 2015 concluded that coffee lowered breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women.4

Overall, the evidence tends to point towards no possible connection between coffee and breast cancer.5 If anything, it could reduce your risk. But drowning your coffee in sugar and rich cream may have its own drawbacks! Pure brewed coffee is what you need to drink.


1.ROSENBERG, L., MILLER, D. R., HELMRICH, S. P., KAUFMAN, D. W., SCHOTTENFELD, D., STOLLEY, P. D., & SHAPIRO, S. (1985). Breast cancer and the consumption of coffee. American journal of epidemiology, 122(3), 391-399.

2.Jiang, W., Wu, Y., & Jiang, X. (2013). Coffee and caffeine intake and breast cancer risk: an updated dose response meta-analysis of 37 published studies. Gynecologic oncology, 129(3), 620-629.

3.Li, J., Seibold, P., Chang-Claude, J., Flesch-Janys, D., Liu, J., Czene, K., ... & Hall, P. (2011). Coffee consumption modifies risk of estrogen-receptor negative breast cancer. Breast Cancer Research, 13(3), R49.

4.Bhoo-Pathy, N., Peeters, P. H., Uiterwaal, C. S., Bueno-de-Mesquita, H. B., Bulgiba, A. M., Bech, B. H., ... & Fagherazzi, G. (2015). Coffee and tea consumption and risk of pre-and postmenopausal breast cancer in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) cohort study. Breast Cancer Research, 17(1), 15.

5.Ishitani, K., Lin, J., Manson, J. E., Buring, J. E., & Zhang, S. M. (2008). Caffeine Consumption and Risk of Breast Cancer in a Large Prospective Cohort of Women. Archives of Internal Medicine, 168(18), 2022 2031.

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