Caffeine and Breast Cancer

woman holding cup of coffee

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Caffeine consumption has been considered a possible risk factor for breast cancer, but experts are learning that caffeine probably does not increase the likelihood of developing the condition.

There is definitely some confusing information about the relationship between caffeine and breast cancer, and there are still many unanswered questions. Nevertheless, if you are a coffee, tea, soft drink, or cocoa drinker or a chocolate lover, you may be interested in learning about the impact of caffeine on breast cancer—because of all of these common drinks and foods contain caffeine.

Caffeine Consumption and Breast Health

Caffeine consumption has been associated with a decreased risk of breast cancer. But the reason for the link and the timing, quantity, and exact effects are not understood.

A recent Swedish study showed that coffee consumption was associated with a decrease in breast cancer, while tea consumption was associated with an increase in breast cancer. The reason for this difference between coffee and tea is not clear, but it's important to keep in mind that caffeine-containing beverages and foods also contain other components.

Brownies contain caffeine from cocoa, but they also contain sugar and eggs, while caffeinated soft drinks often contain artificial sweeteners and food coloring, making caffeine only one of many ingredients that could have an effect on breast cancer.

Caffeine may affect breast pain. For instance, some women with fibrocystic breast tissue notice that when they avoid caffeinated products, their breast symptoms improve. This could be related to caffeine's tendency to heighten awareness, which can increase pain sensitivity.

Caffeine as a Breast Cancer Treatment

Caffeine is believed to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory functions. Antioxidants counteract oxidation in the body. Oxidation is a chemical process that leads to cancer and heart disease. Inflammation exacerbates disease, including cancer. For this reason, caffeine has been considered as a possible treatment for breast cancer.

Guaraná, a highly caffeinated food, was studied in the laboratory setting. It appeared to stop the growth of breast cancer cells without affecting normal cells. However, this effect has not been seen in humans and the food has not been used as a breast cancer treatment.

Because findings in laboratory experiments are not always the same when they are applied to humans, the effects of caffeine on breast cancer cells would have to be replicated in humans before it would be accepted as a treatment for breast cancer.

Practical Habits and Caffeine

There are a number of important issues to consider when it comes to caffeine. While safe for most people, it is not safe for some people who have heart disease, hypertension (high blood pressure), or kidney disease.

But even if you don't have a contraindication to caffeine, it can disrupt your sleep and can interfere with your concentration or make you irritable or jumpy. Caffeine may cause dehydration, which can lead to urinary tract infections,

Most people can tolerate some caffeine, but experience these symptoms when consuming too much caffeine.

The effect of caffeine on headaches and migraines can be intense, as caffeine dependence can lead to withdrawal symptoms—which is often associated with severe headaches.

The right amount or maximum amount of caffeine differs for everyone, but it can range from one to five servings of a caffeinated beverage or food per day.

Because its effects are not well established, and because the side effects are not good for your health, you should not attempt to use caffeine as a strategy for preventing breast cancer.

A Word From Verywell

Caffeine is present in many common foods and drinks, so it is natural to wonder how it affects your health. If you currently have, previously have had, or are at risk of breast cancer, the evidence does not suggest that you need to avoid caffeine.

Moderation is important, however. For women, caffeine affects a number of health issues, but it does not seem to have a major impact on breast cancer.

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