Women diagnosed with breast cancer could halve the risk of recurrence by drinking at least two cups of java per day, according to a recent Swedish study.
The most common cancer among women, breast cancer represents close to 12% of all cancers worldwide, and around 1.7 million new cases were diagnosed in 2012, according to the World Health Organization. Women in developed nations have a chance of more than 10% of developing the disease during their lifetime.
Following previous research on the role of coffee in keeping breast cancer at bay, researchers at the University of Lund and the Skane University Hospital in Barngaten in Sweden decided to investigate the effects of the beverage in women already diagnosed with the condition.
The research team combined clinical data and lifestyle information on a cohort of 1,090 Swedish patients diagnosed with breast cancer, together with available data on breast cancer cells.
The results of the study, which was published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research, indicate that of the 500 women treated with the drug Tamoxifen, those who drank between two and five cups of coffee per day were half as likely to see a recurrence of their cancer, compared to those who drank no coffee or less than two cups.
"The study also shows that those who drank at least two cups of coffee a day had smaller tumors and a lower proportion of hormone-dependent tumors," added the researchers Ann Rosendahl and Helena Jernström.
By analyzing the mechanisms associated with these protective effects, the researchers found that the caffeine and caffeic acid found in coffee led to reduced cell division and increased cell death in the cancer tissues, and that this effect was particularly significant in patients treated with the drug Tamoxifen. According to the researchers, these two substances found in coffee appear to help turn off the signaling paths cancer cells need to grow.
The authors of the study emphasize that two cups of coffee per day may reinforce the effects of Tamoxifen but are by no means a replacement for prescribed treatment.
Previous studies have linked moderate coffee consumption with a reduced risk of oral cancer, bladder cancer, colon cancer and esophageal cancer, among other forms of the disease. Two cups a day are said to be enough to reduce the risk of melanoma and uterine cancer by as much as 20%.