An article appearing in the January 2006 issue of the International Journal of Cancer says that women with a BRCA1 gene mutation, which puts them at high risk for breast cancer, could actually benefit by drinking large amounts of coffee.
Dr. Steven A. Narod, of the University of Toronto, Ontario, and colleagues monitored the relationship of coffee consumption and the risk of breast cancer in 1690 women who had either BRCA1 or BRCA2 genetic profiles. Around 40 women from four different countries also participated in this study. The quantity of coffee consumed by these women was recorded by giving them a questionnaire. The report says that women who drank 6 or more cups of coffee per day reduced the risk of breast cancer by 69 percent as compared to women who did not drink any coffee. Additionally, women who drank 4 to 5 cups decreased their chances of developing cancer by 25 percent while women who consumed an average of 1 to 3 cups reduced their risk by 10 percent. The researchers found that coffee had a protective effect on carriers of BRCA1 mutation and appeared to have little or no effect on BRCA2 mutation carriers. "The 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," the authors concluded. The protective effect of coffee was thought to be because of the phytoestrogens present in it.