Coffee and tea consumption are not associated with deleterious quality of life and survival outcomes in breast cancer survivors

Breast cancer survivors who consumed multiple cups of coffee and/or tea per day did not have an increased risk of worsening quality of life, according to recently published study results.

“Modifiable lifestyle behaviors, such as unhealthy diet, insufficient physical activity, and obesity, were associated with poorer oncological outcomes, worsening quality of life, and more severe treatment-related symptoms,” the study authors write.

Diet is often a relevant concern for breast cancer survivors, as many report asking for more information on how to better improve their health after treatment, the researchers said.

The problem, the study authors explained, is that a significant proportion of breast cancer survivors do not follow dietary guidelines.

One such recommendation from the Food and Drug Administration is that healthy adults should consume no more than 400 milligrams of caffeine per day, or about four to five cups of coffee per day.

Coffee and tea can contain significant amounts of caffeine and other compounds that produce both valuable and invaluable health effects. For example, study results have shown that increased coffee consumption is associated with improved outcomes in patients with advanced or metastatic colorectal cancer. In addition, drinking coffee or tea can improve survival after a breast cancer diagnosis.

However, as the researchers noted, there has been a lack of research evaluating the effects of coffee and tea consumption on the quality of life of breast cancer survivors.

The aim of this study was to identify patterns of coffee and tea consumption in a group of breast cancer survivors and to determine whether the amount of caffeine intake was associated with decreased quality of life, including anxiety and depression, and survival outcomes.

Of the 3,788 breast cancer survivors enrolled in the study, 45.9% were classified as obese or overweight. In addition, 40.7% of breast cancer survivors did not follow physical activity recommendations.

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

One factor the researchers identified was that breast cancer survivors who consumed more coffee and/or tea per day were also more likely to be current or former smokers.

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

Although the researchers reported observing a dramatic decline in overall quality of life from breast cancer diagnosis to the first year after diagnosis, they stated that there was no association between coffee and tea consumption. The same was observed in relation to pain and fatigue.

According to the study authors, insomnia was the only quality of life that breast cancer survivors might have associated with coffee and/or tea consumption.

They also reported that with 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 consumed.

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

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