Laboratory data suggest that caffeine or some components of coffee may cause DNA mutations and inhibit tumour suppressor mechanisms, leading to neoplastic growth.
However, coffee consumption has not been clearly implicated in the aetiology of human post-menopausal ovarian cancer.
A study done in Iowa by Natalie A. Lueth et al evaluated the relationship of coffee and caffeine intake with risk of epithelial ovarian cancer in a prospective cohort study of 29,060 postmenopausal women.
The participants completed a mailed questionnaire that assessed diet and health history and was followed for ovarian cancer incidence from 1986 to 2004.
Age-adjusted and multivariate-adjusted hazard ratios were calculated for four exposure variables: caffeinated coffee, decaffeinated coffee, total coffee and total caffeine to assess whether or not coffee or caffeine influences the risk of ovarian cancer.
An increased risk was observed in the multivariate model for women who reported drinking five or more cups/day of caffeinated coffee compared to women who reported drinking none (HR=1.81, 95% CI: 1.10-2.95).
Decaffeinated coffee, total coffee and caffeine were not statistically significantly associated with ovarian cancer incidence.
The results suggest that a component of coffee other than caffeine, or in combination with caffeine, may be associated with increased risk of ovarian cancer in postmenopausal women who drink five or more cups of coffee a day.