Washington, Apr 28 : Having at least two to three cups of coffee a day can either reduce the risk of developing breast cancer, or delay its onset - depending on which variant of the gene CYP1A2 a woman has.
The research was conducted by boffins at Lund University and Malm¶ University in Sweden, who found that coffee is related to the female sex hormones.
According to the researchers, various components of coffee can alter the metabolism so that a woman acquires a better configuration of various estrogens.
The fairer sex is further lent a helping hand as caffeine in coffee hampers the growth of cancer cells.
As a part of the study, Helena Jernstrom and her colleagues studied the coffee-drinking habits of nearly 460 breast cancer patients.
Half of the women had a variant called A/A, while the others had either A/C or C/C of the gene CYP1A2, which codes for an enzyme that metabolises both oestrogen and coffee.
Jernstrom said that women with one of the C variants, and who had drunk at least three cups of coffee a day, were found to develop breast cancer considerably more seldom than women with the A/A variant with the same coffee consumption.
Their cancer risk was only two thirds of that of the other women.
On the other hand, nearly 15 percent of these women had estrogen-insensitive (ER negative) tumors, which are more difficult to treat.
"The majority nevertheless had estrogen-sensitive and more readily treated tumors. And women who develop breast cancer at a higher age often do better than those who get it earlier in life," she said.
She stressed, however, that it was too early to recommend that women start consuming so many cups of coffee.
The research has been published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention.