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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Coffee consumption modifies risk of estrogen-receptor negative breast cancer

Jingmei Li12*, Petra Seibold3, Jenny Chang-Claude3, Dieter Flesch-Janys4, Jianjun Liu2, Kamila Czene1, Keith Humphreys1 and Per Hall1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institutet, Box 281, Stockholm 17177, Sweden

2 Human Genetics, Genome Institute of Singapore, 60 Biopolis St, Singapore 138672, Singapore

3 Division of Cancer Epidemiology, German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Im Neuenheimer Feld 581 (TP4), Heidelberg 69120, Germany

4 Department of Medical Biometrics and Epidemiology, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Martinistr. 52, Hamburg 20246, Germany

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Breast Cancer Research 2011, 13:R49  doi:10.1186/bcr2879

Published: 14 May 2011



Breast cancer is a complex disease and may be sub-divided into hormone-responsive (estrogen receptor (ER) positive) and non-hormone-responsive subtypes (ER-negative). Some evidence suggests that heterogeneity exists in the associations between coffee consumption and breast cancer risk, according to different estrogen receptor subtypes. We assessed the association between coffee consumption and postmenopausal breast cancer risk in a large population-based study (2,818 cases and 3,111 controls), overall, and stratified by ER tumour subtypes.


Odds ratios (OR) and corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CI) were estimated using the multivariate logistic regression models fitted to examine breast cancer risk in a stratified case-control analysis. Heterogeneity among ER subtypes was evaluated in a case-only analysis, by fitting binary logistic regression models, treating ER status as a dependent variable, with coffee consumption included as a covariate.


In the Swedish study, coffee consumption was associated with a modest decrease in overall breast cancer risk in the age-adjusted model (OR> 5 cups/day compared to OR≤ 1 cup/day: 0.80, 95% CI: 0.64, 0.99, P trend = 0.028). In the stratified case-control analyses, a significant reduction in the risk of ER-negative breast cancer was observed in heavy coffee drinkers (OR> 5 cups/day compared to OR≤ 1 cup/day : 0.43, 95% CI: 0.25, 0.72, P trend = 0.0003) in a multivariate-adjusted model. The breast cancer risk reduction associated with higher coffee consumption was significantly higher for ER-negative compared to ER-positive tumours (P heterogeneity (age-adjusted) = 0.004).


A high daily intake of coffee was found to be associated with a statistically significant decrease in ER-negative breast cancer among postmenopausal women.