Coffee consumption and risk of breast cancer: A Mendelian randomization study

PLoS One. 2021 Jan 19;16(1):e0236904. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0236904. eCollection 2021.


Background: Observational studies have reported either null or weak protective associations for coffee consumption and risk of breast cancer.

Methods: We conducted a two-sample Mendelian randomization (MR) analysis to evaluate the relationship between coffee consumption and breast cancer risk using 33 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with coffee consumption from a genome-wide association (GWA) study on 212,119 female UK Biobank participants of White British ancestry. Risk estimates for breast cancer were retrieved from publicly available GWA summary statistics from the Breast Cancer Association Consortium (BCAC) on 122,977 cases (of which 69,501 were estrogen receptor (ER)-positive, 21,468 ER-negative) and 105,974 controls of European ancestry. Random-effects inverse variance weighted (IVW) MR analyses were performed along with several sensitivity analyses to assess the impact of potential MR assumption violations.

Results: One cup per day increase in genetically predicted coffee consumption in women was not associated with risk of total (IVW random-effects; odds ratio (OR): 0.91, 95% confidence intervals (CI): 0.80-1.02, P: 0.12, P for instrument heterogeneity: 7.17e-13), ER-positive (OR = 0.90, 95% CI: 0.79-1.02, P: 0.09) and ER-negative breast cancer (OR: 0.88, 95% CI: 0.75-1.03, P: 0.12). Null associations were also found in the sensitivity analyses using MR-Egger (total breast cancer; OR: 1.00, 95% CI: 0.80-1.25), weighted median (OR: 0.97, 95% CI: 0.89-1.05) and weighted mode (OR: 1.00, CI: 0.93-1.07).

Conclusions: The results of this large MR study do not support an association of genetically predicted coffee consumption on breast cancer risk, but we cannot rule out existence of a weak association.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Coffee / adverse effects*
  • Databases, Factual
  • Databases, Genetic
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / genetics
  • Genome-Wide Association Study / methods
  • Humans
  • Mendelian Randomization Analysis / methods
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide / genetics
  • Random Allocation
  • Risk Factors
  • White People / genetics


  • Coffee