Coffee, Cancer Link Not So Strong After All

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Our Michael Haederle suggested awhile back that coffee might be the elixir of life, which frankly
struck us as rather obvious given the way it raises us from the dead every morning.

Nonetheless, the contention backed up other research, like this look at java and yeast.

But even our piece noted that there may be a downside to coffee, including links to miscarriage and benign breast disease. So we're happy to note that a study of 38,432 women age 45 and up who filled out diet surveys from 1992 to 1995 now suggests that caffeine consumption is not associated with overall breast cancer risk. (This in turn follows another study that suggested drinking two or three cups of coffee a day might even reduce the risk of developing breast cancer.)

Researchers look at a connection following a lead from an earlier study in which women with non-cancerous breast disease saw their symptoms relieved when they stopped quaffing caffeinated food and drink.

But in the real world of research, few things are cut and dried. While caffeine may not raise the risk of breast cancer to those without a pre-existing condition, it may increase risk for the heaviest coffee drinkers (four cups or more a day, since you ask) who already have benign breast disease or certain kinds of tumors.

"The mechanisms by which caffeine may affect breast carcinogenesis (cancer development) are complex and remain unclear," Dr. Ken Ishitani of Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School and the Tokyo Women's Medical University and his colleagues write in the latest issue of Archives of Internal Medicine. They call for further study.

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