A recent study at the University of Toronto, Ontario, showed that women with a particular type of gene mutation that makes them more susceptible to contracting breast cancer might improve their odds by increasing their coffee intake. The mutation, known as breast cancer 1 and 2 (BRCA1 and 2), is passed on through familial genes and is highest in members of families with histories of cancers or of Eastern European Jewish descent. The study findings were reported in the January 2006 edition of the International Journal of Cancer.
University researchers studied 1690 high-risk women from 40 clinical centers in 4 countries with BRCA mutations. The women completed selfadministered questionnaires to assess average lifetime coffee consumption. The probability of developing breast cancer among women with BRCA genes who drank 1 to 3 cups of coffee a day, 4 to 5 cups, or 6 or more cups, was reduced by 10%, 25%, and 69%, respectively, compared with those who drank no coffee. Specifically, the protection was found in women who carried the BRCA1 gene, but not the BRCA2 mutation. The researchers pointed out that coffee is rich in phytoestrogens, which may provide protective effects.