NEW YORK - Women with BRCA1 gene mutations, which confer a high risk of developing
breast cancer, might decrease their risk by drinking a lot of coffee, according
to a multicenter team of investigators.
Dr. Steven A. Narod, of the University of Toronto,
Ontario, and colleagues examined the association between coffee consumption
and the risk of breast cancer among 1690 high-risk women with BRCA1 or BRCA2
The study included women from 40 clinical centers
in four countries. A self-administered questionnaire was used to assess the
average lifetime coffee consumption.
he likelihood of developing breast cancer among BRCA mutation carriers who
drank 1 to 3 cups of coffee daily, 4 to 5 cups, or 6 or more cups was reduced
by 10 percent, 25 percent and 69 percent, respectively, compared to those who
drank no coffee, according to the report in the International Journal of Cancer.
When the investigators classified the women by mutation
status, they found significant protection from coffee for women with a BRCA1
mutation, but not for carriers of a BRCA2 mutation.
The investigators note that coffee is an important
source of phytoestrogens, which may have protective effects.
“The mechanism by which phytoestrogens may
beneficially influence the risk of breast cancer has predominantly been attributed
to their structural similarity to endogenous estrogens and their ability to
bind to estrogen receptors,” Narod and colleagues explain.