Caffeine and Caffeic Acid Inhibit Growth and Modify Estrogen Receptor and Insulin-like Growth Factor I Receptor Levels in Human Breast Cancer

Clin Cancer Res. 2015 Apr 15;21(8):1877-87. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-14-1748. Epub 2015 Feb 17.


Purpose: Epidemiologic studies indicate that dietary factors, such as coffee, may influence breast cancer and modulate hormone receptor status. The purpose of this translational study was to investigate how coffee may affect breast cancer growth in relation to estrogen receptor-α (ER) status.

Experimental design: The influence of coffee consumption on patient and tumor characteristics and disease-free survival was assessed in a population-based cohort of 1,090 patients with invasive primary breast cancer in Sweden. Cellular and molecular effects by the coffee constituents caffeine and caffeic acid were evaluated in ER(+) (MCF-7) and ER(-) (MDA-MB-231) breast cancer cells.

Results: Moderate (2-4 cups/day) to high (≥5 cups/day) coffee intake was associated with smaller invasive primary tumors (Ptrend = 0.013) and lower proportion of ER(+) tumors (Ptrend = 0.018), compared with patients with low consumption (≤1 cup/day). Moderate to high consumption was associated with lower risk for breast cancer events in tamoxifen-treated patients with ER(+) tumors (adjusted HR, 0.51; 95% confidence interval, 0.26-0.97). Caffeine and caffeic acid suppressed the growth of ER(+) (P ≤ 0.01) and ER(-) (P ≤ 0.03) cells. Caffeine significantly reduced ER and cyclin D1 abundance in ER(+) cells. Caffeine also reduced the insulin-like growth factor-I receptor (IGFIR) and pAkt levels in both ER(+) and ER(-) cells. Together, these effects resulted in impaired cell-cycle progression and enhanced cell death.

Conclusions: The clinical and experimental findings demonstrate various anticancer properties of caffeine and caffeic acid against both ER(+) and ER(-) breast cancer that may sensitize tumor cells to tamoxifen and reduce breast cancer growth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Breast Neoplasms / mortality
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Caffeic Acids / pharmacology*
  • Caffeine / pharmacology*
  • Cell Cycle / drug effects
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Coffea
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Grading
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Receptor, IGF Type 1 / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Estrogen / metabolism*
  • Risk Factors
  • Tumor Burden
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Caffeic Acids
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Caffeine
  • Receptor, IGF Type 1
  • caffeic acid