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
Steven A. Narod,
of the University of Toronto, and colleagues examined
the association between coffee consumption and the risk of
breast cancer among 1,690 high-risk women with BRCA1
or BRCA2 mutations. The study included women from 40
clinical centers in four countries. A
self-administered questionnaire was used to assess average
lifetime coffee consumption.
The 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%, 25%, and 69%
respectively when compared with 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.
note that coffee is an important source of
phytoestrogens, which may have protective effects.
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.