Cup Size Matters in Breast Cancer Prevention

Heavy coffee drinking cuts risk of aggressive breast cancer

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Your morning cups of java may do more than help you wake up. In fact, drinking many cups of coffee a day seems to protect against a dangerous, harder-to-treat form of breast cancer.

New research from the Karolinska Institute, Sweden, has shown that women who drink five or more cups coffee have a 57 percent reduced risk of developing estrogen-receptor-negative (ER-) breast cancer, compared to women who drink a cup or less a day.

"Drink more coffee to fight an aggressive form of breast cancer."

ER- breast cancer is very aggressive, more difficult to treat with medications and usually requires intensive chemotherapy.

For the study, researchers accounted for other risk factors associated with developing breast cancer, including age at menopause, exercise, weight, education and a family history of breast cancer.

Researchers note that there has been conflicting information about the beneficial effects of coffee. They believe this may have something to do with the type of coffee bean used and how the beverage is prepared.

They added that the findings related only to ER- breast cancer. "It is unlikely that the protective effect is due to phytoestrogens present in coffee since there was no reduction in the incidence of ER-positive cancer in this study," researchers said.

While this study is fascinating, experts urge women to look to other methods of lowering their risk of all types of cancer, including eating a well-balanced diet that emphasizes whole foods; getting regular exercise and achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.

The study was published online in the journal Breast Cancer Research.

The Study

  • 5,929 Swedish women between the ages of 50 and 74 participated
  • About half had been diagnosed with breast cancer; the other half were healthy
  • Researchers asked the women about their coffee drinking habits
  • Information on family history of breast cancer, reproductive history, hormone therapy use and habits such as smoking, drinking alcohol, and exercising also collected
  • Women who drank 5+ cups of coffee daily were 20 percent less likely to have ER- breast cancer compared to women who drank less than one cup
  • When other risk factors (age, weight, family history, etc.) were taken into account, the reduced risk totaled 57 percent

One in four women diagnosed with breast cancer have the ER- type of the disease.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 11, 2011
Last Updated:
May 13, 2011