WOMEN who drink coffee could be protecting themselves against an aggressive form of breast cancer, research suggests.
Coffee drinkers are far less likely to develop oestrogen-receptor negative breast cancer, particularly if they drink five cups or more a day. These types of tumours do not react to a wide range of drugs, meaning chemotherapy is often the only option.
In the study, experts from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm found coffee drinkers had a lower incidence of breast cancer than women who rarely drank coffee.
They analysed data from almost 6,000 women who were past the menopause.
Those women who drank five or more cups a day had a 57% reduced risk of breast cancer compared with those who drank less than one cup a day.
Writing in the journal Breast Cancer Research, the researchers concluded: “A high daily intake of coffee was found to be associated with a statistically significant decrease in oestrogen-receptor negative breast cancer among postmenopausal women.”
However, experts are divided on the benefits of coffee because some studies have shown it could act as a promoter of cancer.
Some studies suggest coffee may cause cells to proliferate or prevent them from being repaired.
Experts said they suspected coffee may contain compounds that affect different types of breast cancer.
It is possible that coffee fuels oestrogen-receptor positive breast cancers but reduces the risk of oestrogen-receptor negative breast cancer, they said.
Dr Caitlin Palframan, of Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said: “Not all studies agree on the effects of consuming coffee and we wouldn’t encourage women to increase the amount of coffee they drink to protect against breast cancer.”
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