Fibrous breast tissue, also known as fibrocystic breast tendency, is a benign but potentially painful condition that, according to the Mayo Clinic, affects approximately half of all women over the course of their lifetime. Research does not indicate that caffeine contributes to the development of fibrous breast tissue. However, high levels of caffeine consumption may worsen existing cases of fibrocystic breast tendency.
Fibrous Breast Tissue
While fibrous breast tissue is a benign condition and is not seen as a clinical risk factor for the development of breast cancer, it can produce symptoms of pain, tenderness, swelling and general discomfort. Fibrous breast tissue most commonly begins to affect women in their thirties and typically subsides after menopause. To the touch, fibrous breast tissue feels like rubbery, moveable nodules that are not affixed to a particular site on the breast.
Does Caffeine Make Fibroids Worse?
Although the precise cause of fibrous breast tissue remains unknown, changes in the glandular structure of the breast can result from the normal hormonal fluctuations induced by the menstrual cycle as well as age-related hormonal changes. Dr. Carol Scott-Conner of the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics suggests that estrogen, in particular, may contribute to the development of fibrous breast tissue. However, she explains that the precise mechanism for how estrogen affects fibrous tissue growth is unclear and appears to differ between pre- and postmenopausal women.
Fibrous Breast Tissue and Caffeine
Although the question as to whether caffeine contributes to fibrous breast tissue has received significant attention, medical research does not indicate that caffeine consumption contributes to the risk of fibrocystic breast tendency. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that heavy caffeine intake make worsen the pain and discomfort associated with fibrous breast tissues, especially around the time of menstruation. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends avoiding caffeine for a few months to assess whether it helps symptoms to subside.
Caffeine and Hormones
Reasons for Breast Sensitivity
Caffeine can have an indirect effect on sex hormones in your body due to its effect on the stress hormone cortisol 1. Consuming large quantities of caffeine results in elevated levels of cortisol, which, when released into the bloodstream over a sustained period, can effect a number of negative health reactions, including cellular changes and potential sex hormone disruption.
In addition to investigating whether caffeine contributes to fibrous breast tissue, researchers have also studied potential linkages between caffeine and breast cancer. Fibrous breast tissue in and of itself is not a risk factor for carcinogenesis. However, data from the ongoing Women’s Health Study indicate that among women with benign breast disease, the risk of developing breast cancer increases significantly among those who consume large amounts of coffee on a daily basis.
- Caffeine can have an indirect effect on sex hormones in your body due to its effect on the stress hormone cortisol 1.
- In addition to investigating whether caffeine contributes to fibrous breast tissue, researchers have also studied potential linkages between caffeine and breast cancer.
Does Caffeine Make Fibroids Worse?
Reasons for Breast Sensitivity
What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Uterine Fibroids After Menopause?
The Effects of Caffeine on Women
What Are the Treatments for Intraductal Papilloma of Breast?
Caffeine & Breast Lumps
What Hormone Makes Your Breasts Grow?
Is it Possible to Take Vitex With Birth Control?
How Caffeine Affects the Joints
Can Caffeine Decrease Testosterone?
- University of New Mexico; Cortisol Connection; Christine Maglione-Garves et al.
- Alkabban FM, Ferguson T. Cancer, Breast. [Updated 2019 Jun 4]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2019 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482286/
- Powell RW. Breast Pain. In: Walker HK, Hall WD, Hurst JW, editors. Clinical Methods: The History, Physical, and Laboratory Examinations. 3rd edition. Boston: Butterworths; 1990. Chapter 169. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK277/
- National Breast Cancer Foundation. Breast Pain. nationalbreastcancer.org
- Koo MM, von Wagner C, Abel GA, McPhail S, Rubin GP, Lyratzopoulos G. Typical and atypical presenting symptoms of breast cancer and their associations with diagnostic intervals: Evidence from a national audit of cancer diagnosis. Cancer Epidemiol. 2017;48:140–146. doi:10.1016/j.canep.2017.04.010
- Smith RL, Pruthi S, Fitzpatrick LA. Evaluation and management of breast pain. Mayo Clin Proc. 2004;79(3):353-72.
- Morrow M. The evaluation of common breast problems. Am Fam Physician. 2000;61(8):2371-8, 2385.
- Powell RW. Breast Examination. In: Walker HK, Hall WD, Hurst JW, editors. Clinical Methods: The History, Physical, and Laboratory Examinations. 3rd edition. Boston: Butterworths; 1990. Chapter 176. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK285/
- Lee MD, Michelle, Owen MD, Wendi. My Breast Hurt. Should I be Worried? Society of Breast Imaging. sbi-online.org September 27, 2019
- Molckovsky A, Fitzgerald B, Freedman O, Heisey R, Clemons M. Approach to inflammatory breast cancer. Can Fam Physician. 2009;55(1):25–31.
- InformedHealth.org [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. Pain management in metastatic breast cancer. 2012 Feb 14 [Updated 2016 Apr 7]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK361025/
- Rostami R, Mittal S, Rostami P, Tavassoli F, Jabbari B. Brain metastasis in breast cancer: a comprehensive literature review. J Neurooncol. 2016;127(3):407-14.
- Cingam SR, Karanchi H. Cancer, Adrenal Metastasis. [Updated 2019 Jan 20]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2019 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK441879/
- Sanguinetti A, Polistena A, Lucchini R, et al. Male breast cancer, clinical presentation, diagnosis and treatment: Twenty years of experience in our Breast Unit. Int J Surg Case Rep. 2016;20S(Suppl):8–11. doi:10.1016/j.ijscr.2016.02.004
- Khattab A, Monga DK. Cancer, Male Breast Cancer. [Updated 2019 Feb 14]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2019 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK526036/
- Yıldırım AC, Yıldız P, Yıldız M, Kahramanca Ş, Kargıcı H. Mastalgia-Cancer Relationship: A Prospective Study. J Breast Health. 2015;11(2):88–91. Published 2015 Apr 1. doi:10.5152/tjbh.2015.2492
- Ajmal M, Van Fossen K. Breast Fibroadenoma. [Updated 2018 Dec 13]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2019 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK535345/
- Crandall CJ, Aragaki AK, Cauley JA, et al. Breast tenderness and breast cancer risk in the estrogen plus progestin and estrogen-alone women's health initiative clinical trials. Breast Cancer Research and Treatment. 2012. 132(1):275-85. doi:10.1007/s10549-011-1848-9
- McCann B, MIaskowski C, Koetters T, et al. Associations between pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokine genes and breast pain in women prior to breast cancer surgery. The Journal of Pain. 2012. 13(5):425-37. doi:10.1016/j.jpain.2011.02.358
- National Cancer Institute. Inflammatory Breast Cancer. Updated 01/06/16. https://www.cancer.gov/types/breast/ibc-fact-sheet
Helen Anderson has been writing and editing professionally since 2007. Her work has appeared in scholarly and popular publications, such as "Foreign Affairs" and "The New York Times." Anderson holds a master's degree in public health from Columbia University, where she is currently completing a Ph.D.