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.
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
Caffeine can have an indirect effect on sex hormones in your body due to its effect on the stress hormone cortisol. 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.