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Frequently Asked Questions


Should I be avoiding all caffeine to help fight my breast cancer?

A recent large observational research study has shown no increased risk of breast cancer in Swedish women, the highest coffee consuming population in the world, related to levels of coffee consumption. (Coffee, tea, and caffeine consumption and breast cancer incidence in a cohort of Swedish women, Michels KB, Holmberg L, Bergkvist L, Wolk A Ann Epidemiol. 2002 Jan;12(1):21-6).

However, I still recommend consuming coffee as a “special treat” and consuming green tea on a regular basis instead of coffee to optimize the odds for long-term survival after a cancer diagnosis. One study has found decreased risk of breast cancer recurrence (stage I and II) in Japanese women who drank > 5 cups of green tea/day (these are little cups, not giant mugs). (Jpn J Cancer Res. 1998 Mar;89(3):254-61. Influence of drinking green tea on breast cancer malignancy among Japanese patients. Nakachi K, Suemasu K, Suga K, Takeo T, Imai K, Higashi.)

There actually is some research showing that decaffeinated green tea does not exert the same anticancer effect in mice as does unadulterated green tea. (1) Nutr Cancer. 1999;33(2):146-53. Effects of oral administration of tea, decaffeinated tea, and caffeine on the formation and growth of tumors in high-risk SKH-1 mice previously treated with ultraviolet B light. Lou YR, Lu YP, Xie JG, Huang MT, Conney A, (2) Eur J Cancer Prev. 2002 Aug;11 Suppl 2:S28-36, Inhibitory effects of tea and caffeine on UV-induced carcinogenesis: relationship to enhanced apoptosis and decreased tissue fat, Conney AH, Lu YP, Lou YR, Huang.

Lastly, I find it interesting that some current research is actually evaluating the role that caffeine may have to enhance both chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Of course, as with anything, the dose is the poison or the prescription (ie remedy), too. :-)

Most of the research is still very preliminary, with most of it being done in the test tube or with animals. So at this point, enjoy your coffee or tea, in moderation of course.


faq posted 11/04



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Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer Is soy safe to consume for women with ER+ breast cancer? posted 4/01, updated 1/05
Breast Cancer Is there any new information for breast cancer patients who have ER+ tumors regarding the safety of eating soy foods? posted 2/02
Breast Cancer I am currently taking Tamoxifen. My daughter heard on TV that I should be eating soy to make it work more efficiently. Do you know of any studies verifying this information? posted 5/01, updated 1/05
Breast Cancer I have read conflicting reports on the benefits vs. the dangers of Tamoxifen for breast cancer treatment. Have you found better nutritional alternatives?
Breast Cancer Should women with ER+ breast cancer avoid flaxseeds and flax oil that contain the phytoestrogens called lignans?
Breast Cancer Is weight gain common during breast cancer treatments? posted 8/00
Breast Cancer What are some good breast cancer web sites? posted 4/04
Breast Cancer Are there any foods I should avoid while taking Tamoxifen? posted 6/04
Breast Cancer Does moderate alcohol consumption have a harmful effect on persons who have had breast cancer? posted 11/04
Breast Cancer Should I be avoiding all caffeine to help fight my breast cancer?
posted 11/04

Back to Main QandA Page


Tea Does decaffeinated green tea still have the health promoting phytochemical called Epigallo-catechin-gallate (EGCG)? posted 1/01
Tea What other teas are healthful to drink in addition to green tea?
Tea Is white tea better than green tea for cancer patients? posted 2/03
Tea Can green tea capsules increase chance of bleeding and bruising for any type of surgery? posted 8/03
Tea Is it safe to drink green tea if I have a port for administration of
my chemotherapy?
posted 1/04
Tea Can drinking tea reduce the absorption of iron, contributing to low red cell counts and iron-deficiency anemia? posted 8/04
Tea Do flavored green teas have the same anti-cancer activity as plain green tea? posted 10/04
Tea Should I be avoiding all caffeine to help fight my breast cancer?
posted 11/04
Tea Does adding milk to tea reduce its anti-cancer benefit? posted 11/04
Tea What you think about the Jason Winters tea? posted 5/05
Tea Should I stop drinking green tea during chemotherapy to avoid consuming too many antioxidants? posted 7/05




These questions and answers are intended to be of a general informative nature. Please consult with the Registered Dietitian in your cancer center or your health care provider for nutritional advice that can be individualized to your specific medical condition.

Contact Information:
Phone/Fax: 734/996-9260

P.O. Box 130221, Ann Arbor, MI  48113

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