It’s long been thought that caffeine plays a role in fibrocystic breast conditions. The interest in caffeine dates back to the late 1970s and early 1980s, when researchers noted higher intakes of caffeine in women with fibrocystic breast conditions. It has been hypothesized that caffeine causes an abnormally high level of energy compounds called cAMP in cells, which may lead to symptoms.
Studies over the past decade have failed to find a relationship between caffeine intake and the development of fibrocystic breast conditions. Drinking coffee may, however, make your symptoms worse. A study from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, asked 147 women with fibrocystic breast conditions to abstain from caffeine-containing foods, beverages and medication. Among those women who successfully removed caffeine for one year, 69 percent reported a decrease or absence of breast pain.3
Cutting back on caffeine certainly can’t hurt. In addition to easing breast symptoms, removing caffeine can also help you sleep better (read chapter 6, “Insomnia”).
I recommend consuming no more than 400 to 450 milligrams of caffeine a day for good health. While your goal is to get rid of as much caffeine as possible, use this amount as a benchmark to see how much you’re consuming now. Eliminate caffeine for three months before you assess its effect on reducing your breast symptoms.