Breast Cancer Research and Treatment

, Volume 169, Issue 1, pp 115–123 | Cite as

Associations of coffee consumption and caffeine intake with mammographic breast density

  • Lusine Yaghjyan
  • Graham Colditz
  • Bernard Rosner
  • Aleksandra Gasparova
  • Rulla M. Tamimi



Previous studies suggest that coffee and caffeine intake may be associated with reduced breast cancer risk. We investigated the association of coffee and caffeine intake with mammographic breast density by woman’s menopausal status and, in postmenopausal women, by hormone therapy (HT).


This study included 4130 cancer-free women within the Nurses’ Health Study and Nurses’ Health Study II cohorts. Percent breast density (PD) was measured from digitized film mammograms using a computer-assisted thresholding technique and square root-transformed for the analysis. Average cumulative coffee/caffeine consumption was calculated using data from all food frequency questionnaires preceding the mammogram date. Information regarding breast cancer risk factors was obtained from questionnaires closest to the mammogram date. We used generalized linear regression to quantify associations of regular, decaffeinated, and total coffee, and energy-adjusted caffeine intake with percent density.


In multivariable analyses, decaffeinated coffee was positively associated with PD in premenopausal women (2+ cups/day: β = 0.23, p trend = 0.03). In postmenopausal women, decaffeinated and total coffee were inversely associated with PD (decaffeinated 2+ cups/day: β = − 0.24, p trend = 0.04; total 4+ cups/day: β = − 0.16, p trend = 0.02). Interaction of decaffeinated coffee with menopausal status was significant (p-interaction < 0.001). Among current HT users, regular coffee and caffeine were inversely associated with PD (regular coffee 4+ cups/day: β = − 0.29, p trend = 0.01; caffeine 4th vs. 1st quartile: β = − 0.32, p trend = 0.01). Among past users, decaffeinated coffee was inversely associated with PD (2+ cups/day β = − 0.70, p trend = 0.02).


Associations of decaffeinated coffee with percent density differ by woman’s menopausal status. Associations of regular coffee and caffeine with percent density may differ by HT status.


Caffeine Coffee intake Breast density Postmenopausal hormone therapy 



This work was supported by the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health [Grant Numbers CA131332, CA087969, CA175080 to R.M.T., UM1 CA186107 to M.S., UM1 CA176726 to W.W]; Avon Foundation for Women; Susan G. Komen for the Cure®; and Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interests

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Research involving human participants and/or animals

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

This study was approved by the Institutional Review Board at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Consent was obtained or implied by return of questionnaires.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Epidemiology, College of Public Health and Health Professions and College of MedicineUniversity of FloridaGainessvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of SurgeryWashington University in St. Louis School of MedicineSt. LouisUSA
  3. 3.Institute for Public Health, Washington University in St. LouisSt. LouisUSA
  4. 4.Channing Division of Network Medicine, Department of MedicineBrigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA

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