Have a Cuppa—Save the Girls
Women at risk for breast cancer—or a recurrence of breast cancer—should seriously consider learning to love coffee. That’s because a growing body of evidence shows that coffee drinking is associated with significant protection against the recurrence of breast cancer, especially among women who were treated with the drug, tamoxifen. Women who drink coffee regularly are also less likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer in the first place.
Investigators at Lund University and Skåne University Hospital, in Sweden, examined data from more than 1,000 women with breast cancer diagnoses. “The study shows that among the over 500 women treated with tamoxifen, those who had drunk at least two cups of coffee a day had only half the risk of recurrence of those who drank less coffee or none at all," said researchers Ann Rosendahl and Helena Jernström, in a press release. “The study also shows that those who drank at least two cups of coffee a day had smaller tumors and a lower proportion of hormone-dependent tumors. We saw that this was already the case at the time of diagnosis.”
Scientists focused on two chemical compounds commonly found in coffee drunk in Sweden; caffeine and caffeic acid. “The breast cancer cells reacted to these substances, especially caffeine, with reduced cell division and increased cell death, especially in combination with tamoxifen. This shows that these substances have an effect on the breast cancer cells and turn off signaling pathways that the cancer cells require to grow.”
At both the cellular level and the level of individual patients, it’s been shown that coffee and its constituents render the common breast cancer-fighting drug, tamoxifen, still more effective. So women who must take the drug should not hesitate to continue enjoying coffee. And women who don’t drink the brew might wish to consider starting, especially if they are at increased risk for breast cancer, due to family history.
AH. Rosendahl, C. M. Perks, L. Zeng, A. Markkula, M. Simonsson, C. Rose, C. Ingvar, J. M. Holly, H. C. Jernstrom. Caffeine and caffeic acid inhibit growth and modify estrogen receptor (ER) and insulin-like growth factor I receptor (IGF-IR) levels in human breast cancer. Clinical Cancer Research, 2015; DOI: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-14-1748