Caffeine, a naturally occurring substance found in the leaves, seeds, or fruits of many plants, is the most popular drug in the world today. From the soothing aroma of a freshly brewed pot of coffee, to the much needed jolt from downing a Red Bull, millions of people rely on the stimulating effects of caffeine to get through the day. But is it really good for us? Extensive research on the safety of caffeine indicates that moderate consumption (about 300 milligrams, or three cups of coffee per day) is generally safe for the average individual. These findings were once again supported in a recent study on whether caffeine increases the risk of developing breast cancer. But scientists did find that high caffeine consumption may increase breast cancer risk for women with benign breast disease. So how much is too much, and who should limit their lattes?
The recent study conducted by researchers at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital and Tokyo Women's Medical University followed more than 38,000 American women over 22 years and examined the relationship between caffeine consumption and the likelihood of developing breast cancer. In their report, recently published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, scientists found "no overall association between caffeine consumption and breast cancer risk." This is good news for most of us. But for women with benign breast disease, conditions in which women get one or more non-malignant breast lumps, scientists found that high caffeine consumption may promote progression of these lumps to invasive breast cancer. Benign breast disease is already a risk factor for breast cancer, and the researchers report that the link between caffeine and breast cancer was borderline. So the results could be due to chance, and further studies are needed to confirm or refute this association. Also, the association was only apparent in those women who drank more than four cups of coffee daily. So while it may be reasonable to limit your intake, it's not necessary to avoid caffeine altogether.
And since October is the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, take some time to learn how to reduce your other risks. The following site provides information about the risks of breast cancer and how to manage them: http://www.breastcancer.org/risk/
If you're over 40, you should have a screening mammogram at least every 1-2 years. Those at higher risk may need to start sooner. Also, remember to perform a Breast Self Exam every month. The best time is at the end of your menstrual period, when normal breast tissue is the least dense. Combining your own monthly exams with a yearly breast examination by a physician improves the chance of detecting cancer early, at a more treatable stage. For more information on performing these exams, please refer to the following website:
Published On: October 27, 2008