Coffee and Tea Consumption Are Not Associated With Harmful Quality of Life, Survival Outcomes Among Breast Cancer Survivors


The findings add to a growing body of literature that demonstrate coffee and/or tea consumption is not detrimental to breast cancer survivors, according to the study authors.

Survivors of breast cancer who consumed multiple cups of coffee and/or tea per day were not at an increased risk for worse quality of life outcomes, according to recently published study results.

“Modifiable lifestyle behaviors such as unhealthy diet, insufficient physical activity and excess weight have been linked to worse oncological outcomes, deterioration of quality of life and more severe treatment-related symptoms,” the study authors wrote.

Nutrition is often a relevant concern for breast cancer survivors since many report having asked for further information on how to better improve their health following treatment, according to the investigators.

The problem, the study authors explained, is that a significant proportion of breast cancer survivors fail to adhere to dietary guidelines.

One such recommendation from the Food and Drug Administration, is that healthy adults should not consume more than 400 milligrams of caffeine per day, or approximately four to five cups of coffee per day.

Some coffee and tea may contain significant amounts of caffeine and other compounds that elicit both valuable and invaluable health effects. For instance, study findings have shown that increased coffee consumption is associated with improved outcomes in patients with advanced or metastatic colorectal cancer. Moreover, drinking coffee or tea may improve survival after a breast cancer diagnosis.

However, as the investigators noted, there has been a lack of research assessing the affects of coffee and tea consumption on quality of life among breast cancer survivors.

The goal of this study was to identify patterns of coffee and tea consumption among a group of breast cancer survivors and determine if the amount of caffeine intake was associated with diminished quality of life measures, including anxiety and depression, as well as survival outcomes.

Of the 3,788 breast cancer survivors included in the study, 45.9% were categorized as being obese or overweight. Additionally, 40.7% of the breast cancer survivors were not considered to be adherent to physical activity recommendations.

The survivors were placed into groups based on the number of cups of coffee and/or tea they reported consuming each day. Participants either drank less than one (25.8%), two (37.6%), three (25.3%) or four or more (11.3%) cup of coffee and/or tea per day.

One factor that the investigators identified is that breast cancer survivors who consumed higher amounts of coffee and/or tea per day were also more likely current or former smokers.

In terms of quality of life outcomes, the authors collected information on physical and emotional distress as well as fatigue, pain, nausea/vomiting and appetite loss at diagnosis and one, two and four years following breast cancer diagnosis.

Although the investigators reported observing a drastic decline in overall quality of life from breast cancer diagnosis to the first year following diagnosis, they explained that there was no association between coffee and tea consumption. The same was observed in terms of pain and fatigue.

The only quality of life outcome that was reported by breast cancer survivors to be possibly associated with coffee and/or tea consumption was insomnia, according to the study authors.

They also reported that at a median follow-up of more than five years, there was no significant difference in terms of survival outcomes and the amount of coffee/tea consumption.

“To our knowledge, this is the first study to provide a comprehensive, longitudinal evaluation of the association between coffee and tea consumption and (patient-reported outcomes) in survivors of breast cancer,” the authors concluded. “We assessed insomnia and measures of psychological distress including cognitive fatigue, anxiety, and depression and observed no significant association between higher consumption of coffee and tea and these outcomes over time.”

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