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Coffee Protects Against Return of Breast Cancer

Apr 22, 2015 05:41 PM EDT

(Photo : Pixabay)

A number of research studies have shown that coffee helps to protect against breast cancer, and now a new study shows that it even protects against the return of breast cancer.

Specifically, as little as two cups a day of coffee inhibits the growth of tumors and reduces the risk of recurrence in women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer and treated with the drug tamoxifen.

"Now, unlike in the previous study, we have combined information about the patients' lifestyle and clinical data from 1090 breast cancer patients with studies on breast cancer cells. The study shows that among the over 500 women treated with tamoxifen, those who had drunk at least two cups of coffee a day had only half the risk of recurrence of those who drank less coffee or none at all," researchers Ann Rosendahl and Helena Jernström, from Lund University, explained in a statement.

"The study also shows that those who drank at least two cups of coffee a day had smaller tumors and a lower proportion of hormone-dependent tumors," they added.

According to the researchers, it's the caffeine and caffeic acid found in coffee that's responsible for its health benefits.

"The breast cancer cells reacted to these substances, especially caffeine, with reduced cell division and increased cell death, especially in combination with tamoxifen," they explained. "This shows that these substances have an effect on the breast cancer cells and turn off signalling pathways that the cancer cells require to grow."

Meaning, coffee seems to reinforce the effect of treatment with tamoxifen, but emphasize the importance of taking prescribed medication.

"They are incredibly important, but if you like coffee and are also taking tamoxifen, there is no reason to stop drinking it. Just two cups a day is sufficient to make a difference," the research team added.

But protecting against the return of breast cancer isn't the only health benefit of coffee. According to WebMD, the caffeinated drink also is a great source of antioxidants, and may even help prevent type 2 diabetes, heart attack and stroke. Though, keep in mind that this doesn't necessarily mean that coffee is good for us, as too much caffeine can raise your blood pressure.

The results were published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research.

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