Female coffee drinkers beware: that Pumpkin Spice Latte might shrink your breasts. Or so you would think, if you scanned the headlines last week. A new study in the British Journal of Cancer [subscription required] has incited mass hysteria over a tenuous link between coffee intake and breast size. The Telegraph warns: “Drinking Too Much Coffee Could Shrink Women’s Breasts,” while UPI throws in a pun: “Study: Cups of Java Cut Cup Size.” But the best comes from the New York Post: “Women Face Drink & Shrink Dilemma, Coffee Poses a Booby Trap.”
But before you pour that cup of coffee down the sink (or “accidentally” spill it on your busty archnemesis) let’s take a closer look at that study:
Researchers from Sweden recruited 269 women (average age was 29) to have their breast size measured and to answer a questionnaire about coffee intake and other lifestyle choices. All the women were from families at high risk for breast cancer and about half carried a gene, CYP1A2*1F, that is associated with breast cancer. Essentially, the researchers were studying the relationship between CYP1A2*1F, breast size, and coffee intake. The gene is known to control the metabolism of the hormone estrogen as well as certain chemicals found in coffee; it’s also been linked to higher breast density and thus higher breast cancer risk.
This is what they found: