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Smoking, Caffeine Links to Ovarian Cancer Risk Studied

Higher caffeine intake seems to decrease risk, especially in those without additional hormone exposure

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Women who smoke, or who drink alcohol or too much caffeine may be at lower risk or at only slightly more elevated risk for developing ovarian cancer than their cohorts who do not smoke, don't drink alcohol and drink little caffeine, according to study findings published online Jan. 22 in advance of publication in the journal Cancer.

Shelley S. Tworoger, Ph.D., from Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues analyzed smoking data from 110,454 women, and alcohol and caffeine intake from 80,253 women who participated in the Nurses' Health Study. Data were collected for nearly 30 years on smoking and 24 years on alcohol and caffeine intake, and included 737 cases of epithelial ovarian cancer.

The researchers found no association between current smoking or past smoking history and ovarian cancer risk, although smoking was associated with risk of ovarian mucinous tumors. There was an inverse relationship between ovarian cancer risk and intake of caffeine, and it appeared that the more tea a woman drank, the lower her risk of ovarian cancer. Risk was further decreased among caffeine drinkers who had never taken oral contraceptives or postmenopausal hormones. Alcohol intake was not associated with ovarian cancer risk. Study participants were mainly white, so these findings may not pertain to other populations, the report indicates.

"The possibility that caffeine may reduce ovarian cancer risk, particularly for women who have not previously used exogenous hormones, is intriguing and warrants further study," Tworoger and colleagues conclude.

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