Coffee and Triple-Negative Breast Cancer: 5 Effects To Know | MyBCTeam

Connect with others who understand.

sign up Log in
Resources
About MyBCTeam
Powered By

Coffee and Triple-Negative Breast Cancer: 5 Effects To Know

Posted on January 29, 2024

Coffee is one of the most popular beverages worldwide. More than 30 percent of breast cancer survivors report drinking a lot of coffee or tea after a breast cancer diagnosis.

If you’re a coffee lover, you may wonder how your coffee consumption may affect your prognosis (expected outcome) and treatment with triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). TNBC is an aggressive subtype of breast cancer in which breast cancer cells lack estrogen or progesterone receptors and don’t make much of a protein called HER2. Between 10 percent and 15 percent of all breast cancers are TNBC, according to the American Cancer Society.

Drinking coffee doesn’t cause breast cancer. In fact, it may lower the risk.

Enter Cell 2 Content Here...

Enter Cell 3 Content Here...

Enter Cell 4 Content Here...

Enter Cell 5 Content Here...

Enter Cell 6 Content Here...


In general, making healthy lifestyle changes can decrease your risk of breast cancer recurring (coming back) and improve your chances of survival. But how does this approach apply to a coffee habit? Continue reading to learn more about coffee’s potential effects on TNBC.

1. Drinking Coffee May Lower the Risk of Breast Cancer

It may be cold comfort if you’re already diagnosed with TNBC, but several studies have linked drinking coffee with a decreased risk of developing breast cancer.

An international study in the journal Nutrients found that among women who’d gone through menopause, coffee drinkers had a lower risk of all types of breast cancer. In a large study in Sweden, drinking at least 3 cups of coffee per day was associated with a lower risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer.

A study of more than 335,000 European women, published in British Cancer Research, also linked drinking caffeinated coffee with a lower risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women. The researchers noted that they didn’t find an association between decaffeinated coffee (decaf) and breast cancer. Their results suggest that compounds specifically in caffeinated coffee may be responsible for the reduced risk.

In a 2011 study, drinking coffee was associated with a lower risk of estrogen receptor (ER)-negative breast cancer but didn’t show the same protective benefits with ER-positive breast cancer. Researchers questioned if some compounds found in coffee may stimulate ER-positive cancer cells, decreasing coffee’s protective effects for ER-positive cancer. Other compounds in coffee are associated with a lower risk of ER-negative breast cancer.

These studies indicate that drinking coffee, in large volumes or caffeinated, may help reduce the overall risk of breast cancer. Researchers aren’t sure why coffee may offer this benefit but believe that it might:

  • Act as an antioxidant (a substance that prevents cell damage)
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Decrease insulin resistance (when cells don’t respond to the hormone insulin)

2. Caffeine Can Interact With Some Treatments for Triple-Negative Breast Cancer

It’s easy to forget that caffeine is a drug — it’s the active ingredient that’s responsible for coffee’s stimulant effect. Within five to 30 minutes after you’ve had a cup of coffee, caffeine can start to affect your body, including:

  • Heart rate
  • Breathing rate
  • Mental alertness
  • Physical energy

Like other drugs, caffeine can potentially interact with medications, such as chemotherapy (chemo) for TNBC.


It’s important to find out how caffeine might interact with medications you take for TNBC or other conditions.

Enter Cell 2 Content Here...

Enter Cell 3 Content Here...

Enter Cell 4 Content Here...

Enter Cell 5 Content Here...

Enter Cell 6 Content Here...

Researchers looking at TNBC cells in a U.S. laboratory found that caffeine may boost the effects of the chemotherapy drug cisplatin, a TNBC treatment option. However, more research is needed to understand the effect of combining caffeine and chemo drugs, like cisplatin, in humans.

Although there’s some evidence that caffeine may help some chemo drugs work, it may interact negatively with others. A MyBCTeam member warned other members, “If you check on Taxol, it says caffeine may interfere with the effects of that chemo.”

Paclitaxel (available as Abraxane and formerly sold as Taxol in the U.S.) is a first-line treatment (first recommended treatment) for TNBC. Studies have found that consuming caffeine while on paclitaxel may inhibit the drug’s ability to kill cancer cells.

Ask your cancer care team if your TNBC treatment has any potential dietary interactions. For instance, are there recommendations against drinking coffee, or are there any foods you should avoid?

3. Drinking Coffee Doesn’t Worsen Your Outcome

If you’ve been diagnosed with TNBC, you may wonder if drinking coffee during your treatment can change your prognosis. Studies have found that, in general, drinking coffee after a breast cancer diagnosis isn’t associated with a worse outcome.


A 2021 British Journal of Cancer study that followed 8,900 women with stage one to three breast cancer linked drinking more than 3 cups of coffee a day with a lower risk of dying from breast cancer or any other cause. In a 2022 study of more than 3,700 people with stage one to three breast cancer, researchers found that drinking over 3 cups of coffee or tea a day wasn’t associated with worse survival outcomes. Limited studies about coffee have included participants with stage four breast cancer.

4. Coffee May Help — or Worsen — Side Effects of TNBC Treatment

Chemotherapy is the main treatment for TNBC. Although side effects differ for everyone, common side effects of chemo include:

  • Hair loss
  • Nail changes
  • Mouth sores
  • Decreased appetite and weight loss
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Menopausal symptoms (such as hot flashes and vaginal dryness)
  • Nerve damage

Some MyBCTeam members have described how drinking coffee helped with chemo side effects. One said, “I gave up caffeinated coffee, except occasionally, about a year before my diagnosis. I discovered quickly that one cup a day on no chemo days is the best way for me to fight the morning fatigue and get me moving.”

Caffeine may help you feel less fatigued, but it can also worsen your dehydration.

Enter Cell 2 Content Here...

Enter Cell 3 Content Here...

Enter Cell 4 Content Here...

Enter Cell 5 Content Here...

Enter Cell 6 Content Here...


Another member shared, “I’ve been in chemo for over a year. The side effects are terrible! I get dizzy, nauseous, irritated, etc.! Drinking iced coffee helps my mood. Always decaf!”

While caffeine can help ease fatigue by increasing mental and physical energy, you should be aware of the possible side effects of high caffeine consumption, such as:

  • Dehydration
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Poor sleep

Some side effects of caffeine may make chemo side effects worse. For example, staying hydrated during chemotherapy is often recommended to manage side effects. If you drink too much caffeine, which can have a diuretic effect (making you pee more often), you may get more dehydrated. Other side effects of caffeine may overlap with chemo side effects, such as nausea and dizziness.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a daily caffeine intake of up to 400 milligrams — the amount in about 4 cups of coffee — is safe for most healthy adults. Talk to your cancer care team about how much caffeine is safe for you to drink each day with your TNBC treatment regimen.

5. Coffee Consumption May Reduce the Risk of Other Cancers

Some breast cancer survivors have a higher risk of developing a second type of cancer. The specific type depends on several risk factors, such as genetics, family history, and the type of TNBC treatment received.

Healthy lifestyle changes such as eating a balanced diet, engaging in physical activity, avoiding tobacco, and limiting alcohol are important for cancer prevention.

Cancer research studies have also linked coffee consumption to a decreased risk of certain cancers, such as:

  • Liver cancer
  • Endometrial (uterine) cancer
  • Oral (mouth and throat) cancers
  • Prostate cancer

If you’re concerned about increased risk factors for developing second cancers, talk to your cancer care team.

Find Others Who Understand

MyBCTeam is the social network for people with breast cancer and their loved ones. On MyBCTeam, more than 67,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with breast cancer.

How much coffee do you drink? Has drinking coffee helped with any chemo side effects or made others worse? Share your experiences in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.

References
  1. Coffee Consumption Modifies Risk of Estrogen-Receptor Negative Breast Cancer — Breast Cancer Research
  2. Coffee and Tea Consumption, Patient‐Reported, and Clinical Outcomes in a Longitudinal Study of Patients With Breast Cancer — Cancer
  3. Triple-Negative Breast Cancer — American Cancer Society
  4. Healthy Lifestyle for People Who’ve Had Breast Cancer — Susan G. Komen
  5. Coffee Intake Decreases Risk of Postmenopausal Breast Cancer: A Dose-Response Meta-Analysis on Prospective Cohort Studies — Nutrients
  6. Prospective Study of Breast Cancer in Relation to Coffee, Tea and Caffeine in Sweden — International Journal of Cancer
  7. Coffee and Tea Consumption and Risk of Pre- and Postmenopausal Breast Cancer in the European Prospective Investigation Into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) Cohort Study — Breast Cancer Research
  8. Antioxidants — MedlinePlus
  9. Insulin Resistance and Prediabetes — National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
  10. Caffeine — Better Health Channel
  11. Caffeine and Cisplatin Effectively Targets the Metabolism of a Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Cell Line Assessed via Phasor-FLIM — International Journal of Molecular Sciences
  12. Treatment of Triple-Negative Breast Cancer — American Cancer Society
  13. RAD6 Inhibition Enhances Paclitaxel Sensitivity of Triple Negative Breast Cancer Cells by Aggravating Mitotic Spindle Damage — BMC Cancer
  14. Caffeine Inhibits the Anticancer Activity of Paclitaxel via Down-Regulation of Alpha-Tubulin Acetylation — Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy
  15. Post-Diagnostic Coffee and Tea Consumption and Breast Cancer Survival — British Journal of Cancer
  16. Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer — American Cancer Society
  17. Spilling the Beans: How Much Caffeine Is Too Much? — U.S. Food and Drug Administration
  18. 7 Chemotherapy Side Effects and How To Manage Them — The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
  19. Side Effects: Dehydration — Breastcancer.org
  20. Second Cancers After Breast Cancer — American Cancer Society
  21. Common Questions About Diet, Activity, and Cancer Risk — American Cancer Society
    Posted on January 29, 2024
    All updates must be accompanied by text or a picture.

    Become a Subscriber

    Get the latest articles about breast cancer sent to your inbox.

    Kathryn Shohara, MS, RDN, LDN, CNSC is a clinical dietitian for adults at Baylor Scott & White Hospitals. Learn more about her here
    Amanda Jacot, PharmD earned a Bachelor of Science in biology from the University of Texas at Austin in 2009 and a Doctor of Pharmacy from the University of Texas College of Pharmacy in 2014. Learn more about her here

    Related Articles

    When you’ve received a new diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer — breast cancer that has spread ...

    Metastatic Breast Cancer Diet: 5 Foods To Eat and 3 To Avoid

    When you’ve received a new diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer — breast cancer that has spread ...
    “Every time I eat, I wonder if what I am eating, or not eating, is feeding cancer cells. How does...

    Diet for Triple-Negative Breast Cancer: 6 Foods To Eat

    “Every time I eat, I wonder if what I am eating, or not eating, is feeding cancer cells. How does...
    Feelings of stress are common among people living with metastatic breast cancer.Managing stress c...

    Can Stress Lead To Breast Cancer Spreading? 4 Tips To Reduce Stress

    Feelings of stress are common among people living with metastatic breast cancer.Managing stress c...
    Developing fluid buildup caused by lymphedema (tissue swelling) is common following lymph node re...

    Tattoos After Lymph Node Removal: Are They Safe?

    Developing fluid buildup caused by lymphedema (tissue swelling) is common following lymph node re...
    Lately, I've found myself wondering exactly what it is that has kept pulling me back to MyBCTeam ...

    Member Spotlight: Why I Keep Coming Back

    Lately, I've found myself wondering exactly what it is that has kept pulling me back to MyBCTeam ...
    Do you remember the exact date and where you were when you first learned that you had breast canc...

    Member Spotlight: Why I Joined MyBCTeam

    Do you remember the exact date and where you were when you first learned that you had breast canc...

    Recent Articles

    A new metastatic breast cancer diagnosis is overwhelming, but focusing on what’s in front of you ...

    Back Pain After Chemo: Can Chemo Cause Sciatica?

    A new metastatic breast cancer diagnosis is overwhelming, but focusing on what’s in front of you ...
    If you recently received a diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer (MBC), it’s natural to wonder wh...

    New Treatments for Metastatic Breast Cancer: Extending Life

    If you recently received a diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer (MBC), it’s natural to wonder wh...
    Metastatic breast cancer (MBC) most commonly spreads from the breast to the lungs, liver, bones, ...

    What Is Progression-Free Survival in Metastatic Breast Cancer?

    Metastatic breast cancer (MBC) most commonly spreads from the breast to the lungs, liver, bones, ...
    A diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer is one of the most challenging experiences many people wi...

    Newly Diagnosed With Metastatic Breast Cancer: What To Expect

    A diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer is one of the most challenging experiences many people wi...
    For anyone with a recent diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer (mBC), coping with the emotional a...

    5 Tips for Moms With Metastatic Breast Cancer: Ways To Cope

    For anyone with a recent diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer (mBC), coping with the emotional a...
    Welcome to MyBCTeam — the place to connect with others living with breast cancer. This video wil...

    Getting Started on MyBCTeam (VIDEO)

    Welcome to MyBCTeam — the place to connect with others living with breast cancer. This video wil...
    MyBCTeam My breast cancer Team

    Thank you for subscribing!

    Become a member to get even more:

    sign up for free

    close