Before I altered my diet to be more Endo-friendly, I was drinking 3-5 cups of coffee per day. Toss in a Coke, Barq’s Root Beer, or Dr. Pepper for lunch. And maybe another during dinner. After my diagnosis, I read that caffeine is bad for my Endo…but why? I kicked it right away. Cold turkey (only had withdrawal headaches for one week…). Haven’t looked back since.
Caffeine is found naturally in coffee beans, tea leaves, and the cacao bean. Coffee. Tea. Chocolate. All of the deliciousness!
Caffeine May Increases Chances of Endometriosis
Scientists do not know why caffeine effects the possibility of developing Endometriosis; however, studies have shown that it does. Many believe that caffeine intake increases estrogen levels, which may increase the chance of developing Endometriosis, or worsening our symptoms.
Caffeine also inhibits the liver’s ability to reduce our estrogen levels. It prevents our liver from doing it’s job. So the estrogen levels, which are already increased by the caffeine intake, are unable to be reduced by our body’s natural functions.
Studies have shown that women who drink one cup of coffee per day have higher estrogen levels than women who drink none. They have also found that women who drink 4-5 cups of coffee per day have 70% higher estrogen levels than other women.
A 1993 study released by the Harvard School of Public Health found that women who drank two or more cups of caffeinated coffee per day, or four cans of soda, were twice as likely to develop Endometriosis.
In 1996, a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that caffeine may increase production of estrogen hormones, which may be a link to caffeine and Endometriosis.
However, a study released in October of 2014 reviewed several past caffeine-related studies and found that there is no direct link between caffeine consumption and increased risk of Endometriosis. There are also theories that caffeine intake helps lower the risk of Diabetes, Alzeimers, and Parkinsons.
So, like all things : you have to listen to your body, do what you think is best for you, and stick with it. Science contradicts itself all of the time and cannot be relied upon as the Final Word…
The US Food & Drug Administration has put together a fun chart to help you realize how much caffeine is in your food (including chocolate) or beverages.
What about Decaf?
Unfortunately, decaffeinated coffees or teas still contain small amounts of caffeine. “In the United States federal regulations require that in order to label coffee as “decaffeinated” that coffee must have had its caffeine level reduced by no less than 97.5 percent.”
The process of decaffeinating coffee or tea varies among manufacturers. Some use methyl chloride, a chemical which is identified by the National Cancer Institute as a possible carcinogen (a cancer causing chemical). A Swiss company, Swiss Water, has developed a process to decaffeinate coffee and teas which uses plant hormones, carbon dioxide, and water.
Many women with Endometriosis have opted to stay away from Decaf, due to the fact that there is still a presence of caffeine and the additional chemical processing.
What Have I Done?
I quit drinking coffee and teas with caffeine. I moved on to Teeccino (an “herbal coffee”, which helped me when I struggled with not having a hot beverage in the morning). I still enjoy a sarsaparilla or a non-caffeinated root beer from time to time, but have since found they are just too sweet anymore. My tastes have changed. And I’m okay with that. Now I enjoy a mug of herbal tea with honey in the morning, drink A LOT of water throughout the day, may have a glass of wine with dinner, and have a mug of tea (honey, ginger, and lemon) before bed. I truly don’t miss my coffee one bit…although every once in a while I enjoy a cup of decaf.
What will you do?
(Updated December 29, 2020)
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
American Journal of Epidemiology (Abstract, June 1993) – Relation of Female Infertility to Consumption of Caffeinated Beverages
European Journal of Nutrition (Abstract, Oct. 2014) – Coffee and Caffeine Intake and Risk of Endometriosis: A Meta-Analysis
~ Again, I am a layman. I do not hold any college degrees, nor mastery of knowledge. Please take what I say with a grain of salt. If curious, do your own research 😉 Validate my writings. Or challenge them. And ALWAYS feel free to consult with your physician. Always. Yours ~ Lisa