Coffee and cancer of the pancreas

N Engl J Med. 1981 Mar 12;304(11):630-3. doi: 10.1056/NEJM198103123041102.


We questioned 369 patients with histologically proved cancer of the pancreas and 644 control patients about their use of tobacco, alcohol, tea, and coffee. There was a weak positive association between pancreatic cancer and cigarette smoking, but we found no association with use of cigars, pipe tobacco, alcoholic beverages, or tea. A strong association between coffee consumption and pancreatic cancer was evident in both sexes. The association was not affected by controlling for cigarette use. For the sexes combined, there was a significant dose-response relation (P approximately 0.001); after adjustment for cigarette smoking, the relative risk associated with drinking up to two cups of coffee per day was 1.8 (95% confidence limits, 1.0 to 3.0), and that with three or more cups per day was 2.7 (1.6 to 4.7). This association should be evaluated with other data; if it reflects a causal relation between coffee drinking and pancreatic cancer, coffee use might account for a substantial proportion of the cases of this disease in the United States.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alcohol Drinking
  • Coffee / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Risk
  • Sex Factors
  • Smoking
  • Tea / adverse effects


  • Coffee
  • Tea