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
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.
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