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Coffee and Tea Do Not Increase Your Breast Cancer Risk

Moderation of Caffeine is Safest Policy


Updated December 25, 2012

Coffee Cup

Coffee Cup

Photo © Lisa F. Young - FOTOLIA.com
Good news for coffee drinkers -- having your morning cup of coffee won't raise your risk of developing breast cancer.

Coffee, Caffeine and Breast Health

You can safely have that morning cup of java, joe, mud -- or whatever you call that first steaming cup of coffee, without raising your risk of developing breast cancer. An international ten-year study followed 38,432 women who were 45 or older and cancer-free when the study began. By the end of the study, the risk of breast cancer was not increased for any of the women, no matter how much caffeine they consumed daily. However, for women with benign breast disease who had 4 cups of caffeine daily, there was a less than 2% increase of risk for estrogen receptor-negative and progesterone receptor-negative breast cancer, and breast tumors larger than 2 cm.

Caffeine and Breast Tissue
Coffee, as well as tea, chocolate and many sodas, contains caffeine. Consuming caffeine may cause fibrocystic breast lumps to swell, increasing your discomfort if you have this benign breast condition. Monthly hormonal changes can also cause breast swelling and tenderness, so if you know that the end of your menstrual cycle is coming up, try avoiding caffeine. Avoiding salt during that time of the month may help also, because salt helps your tissues retain fluid.

Caffeine and Breast Milk
Caffeine from drinks and food will leach into your breast milk, if you are lactating. So if you breastfeed, your baby gets a small percentage of your caffeine intake. One cup of a caffeinated drink each day is the most you should have, unless you don't mind your baby being wide awake at all hours of the clock.

Healthy Ways to Have Your Coffee
Make your coffee a healthy drink by sticking to a few rules:

  • Drink your coffee in moderation; keep caffeinated drinks down to two a day.
  • Remember that caffeine steals the calcium that your bones need to stay strong. Get enough calcium in your system to offset the caffeine.
  • Avoid caffeine late in the day, to get the best quality of sleep.
  • Try your coffee black, or use just a little sugar or natural sweetener to keep the calorie count down.
  • If you're pregnant or breastfeeding, avoid or strictly limit caffeine.

American Cancer Society. Diet and Activity Factors That Affect Risks. Revised: 03/19/2008.

Archives of Internal Medicine, 2008;168(18):2022-2031. Caffeine Consumption and the Risk of Breast Cancer in a Large Prospective Cohort of Women. Ken Ishitani, MD, PhD; Jennifer Lin, PhD; JoAnn E. Manson, MD, DrPH; Julie E. Buring, ScD; Shumin M. Zhang, MD, ScD.

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