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UB study finds no higher rate of breast cancer in older women who drink caffeinated coffee

Two women drinking coffee
University at Buffalo

Older women can drink their coffee today in peace, supported by some new research from the University at Buffalo.

For many years, there has been a belief in a connection between older women drinking a lot of coffee or tea and high rates of breast cancer. Not so, says a new study from UB's School of Public Health and Health Professions.

Its study looked at 80,000 post-menopausal women and found no connection between caffeinated beverages and high levels of breast cancer.

Epidemiology doctoral candidate Kexin Zhu said the raw numbers suggested higher rates of breast cancer in caffeine drinkers. But the researchers analyzed the data a lot of different ways in reaching their conclusions, like adjusting for smoking and drinking, and the numbers weren't there.

"With our study, we unify any associations. We also stratify by age groups, by race, by ethnicity and also we look at different peptides of breast cancer. But, in general, we didn't find any significance," Zhu said.

Zhu said other reseachers are likely to see if they can duplicate the results, fairly standard in medical science. She now wants to see a study of tea, with its high caffeine levels and array of other chemicals.

"If I had a chance, I would probably look at rather different types of the tea and would they have different effects on their breast cancer risk," she said.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.