Did You Know…having several cups of one of the world’s most popular beverages could reduce your risk of developing an aggressive form of breast cancer known as estrogen-receptor negative (ER-negative)?
According to a recent study published in Breast Cancer Research by the Karolinska Institute, drinking five or more cups of coffee each day could decrease your risk by as much as half.
Experts in the field are calling for continued tests; urging caution and a combination of healthy diet and exercise until more extensive analysis can be conducted. The Swedish facility’s research into this exciting possibility is on-going.
The initial studies included almost 6,000 (2,818 cases and 3,111 controls) post-menopausal women, both with and without cancer, who were questioned about their lifestyle and coffee consumption habits.
Using a control group of women who drank a cup of coffee or less per day, research was then collected on women who drank anywhere from two to upwards of five cups each day.
Researchers also included background information on the subjects regarding age at the time of menopause, weight and overall health, as well as their family medical history.
Those women who drank more coffee had lower risk of ER-negative breast cancer than those who drank less.
What is Estrogen-Receptor Negative Breast Cancer?
Estrogen-receptor negative is a form of breast cancer that accounts for one-in-four patients diagnosed with the disease. ER-Negative requires aggressive chemotherapy due to its resistance to drug therapies.
There are still many unknowns about breast cancer which is a complex and aggressive disease. The disease is sub-divided into hormone-responsive (estrogen-receptor positive or ER-positive) and non-hormone-responsive (estrogen-receptor negative or ER-negative) forms.
“We found no evidence that coffee consumption increases the overall risk of postmenopausal breast cancer. However, a high daily intake of coffee was found to be associated with a significant decrease in ER-negative breast cancer among postmenopausal women,” wrote the researchers, led by Jingmei Li.
Yinka Ebo of Cancer Research UK counters, “This study does not provide firm evidence that drinking lots of coffee can help reduce breast cancer risk as it relied on people with cancer remembering how much coffee they drank years ago.”
What type of coffee (cappuccinos, espressos, lattes, etc) and precisely how much was consumed is not completely clear. Additional aspects such as type of beans, strength of coffee, and preparation were also not considered.
The scientists with Karolinska Institute are not definite about the reasons coffee is working to bring about this result. “We just don’t know what might be behind this association. There are so many different compounds in coffee, that it could be any one of them that could be having an effect,” Research Professor Per Hall stated.
This is not the first time a study has been conducted on the benefits of coffee in relation to reducing breast cancer risk (the researchers at Karolinska reviewed more than five hundred papers regarding natural cancer prevention) and it isn’t likely to be the last.
None of the scientists are ready to declare, “Drink more coffee!” until more research is done. Since guzzling copious amounts of coffee is known to have other side effects, they suggest remaining active, limiting alcoholic beverages, and maintaining a healthy weight after menopause.
Complex Compounds Found in Coffee Help Reduce Breast Cancer Risk
It has long been established that coffee, an intricate compound of polyphenols and caffeine, shows signs of acting as both a carcinogen and a chemo-preventive agent.
The Karolinska group stated in their results, “Coffee is interesting in the light of breast cancer etiology [cause of disease] because of its complex make-up of chemicals, several of which have been shown in experimental studies to have breast cancer risk reduction potential…The scientific community, however, stands divided over toxicity of the beverage.”
Future studies are needed to confirm the effects of coffee consumption to help reduce breast cancer risk but the research is promising. Before you change your diet and coffee drinking habits, please discuss with your physician.
“The importance of coffee to the world economy cannot be overstated,” per the International Coffee Organization. Fiscally, that is truer today than ever before, since 50% of some nations entire profit comes from the production and distribution of coffee. Perhaps we will see an increased benefit in coffee used medically as well.
It would make those five cups go down even sweeter.