News: Does caffeine reduce the threat of ovarian Ca?

May 1, 2008

A Nurse's Health Study finds that the greater a woman's caffeine consumption, the lower her risk for ovarian cancer.

A prospective study of over 110,000 women participating in the Nurses' Health Study finds that the greater a woman's caffeine consumption, the lower her risk for ovarian cancer, particularly if she has not previously used exogenous hormones. In addition, the study concluded that cigarette smoking increases the risk for mucinous ovarian tumors only, and alcohol intake seems to have no effect on ovarian cancer risk.

The authors of the study had the participants complete biennial questionnaires. They determined that compared with never-smokers, neither current nor past smoking was associated with ovarian cancer risk overall; however, both past (RR=2.02; 95% CI, 1.15–3.55) and current (RR=2.22; 95% CI, 1.16–4.24) smokers were at more than twice the risk for mucinous tumors.

In addition, women in the highest quintile for caffeine intake (6 or more cups/servings per day) had about a 20% lower (RR, top vs. bottom quintile=0.80; 95% CI, 0.60–1.07; P=.03) risk for ovarian cancer. Of these women, those who had never used either oral contraceptives or postmenopausal hormones were at even lower risk (RR=0.65; 95% CI, 0.46–0.92; P=.02 and RR=0.57; 95% CI, 0.36–0.91).

Commentary from Nanette F. Santoro, MD,Professor and Director, Division of ReproductiveEndocrinology, Department of Ob/Gyn and Women’sHealth, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY.

Good news for coffee lovers! Tworoger and colleagueshave analyzed data from the Nurses Health Study, alarge cohort that provides enough cases to makereasonable associations with lifestyle factors andrelatively rare diseases. Common exposures such ascigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, and caffeinewere assessed. While cigarette smoking was linked toan increased risk of mucinous tumors of the ovary,caffeine intake (which often covaries with smoking)was linked to a decreased risk of ovarian cancer.