Coffee and tea are the most frequently consumed beverages in the world. Their potential effect on the risk of developing different types of malignancies has been largely investigated, but studies on leukaemia in adults are scarce.
The present investigation is aimed at evaluating the potential role of regular coffee and tea intake on the risk of adult leukaemia by reanalysing a large population based case-control study carried out in Italy, a country with a high coffee consumption and a low use of green tea. Interviewed subjects, recruited between 1990 and 1993 in 11 Italian areas, included 1771 controls and 651 leukaemia cases. Association between Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML), Acute Lymphoid Leukaemia, Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia, Chronic Lymphoid Leukaemia, and use of coffee and tea was evaluated by standard logistic regression. Odds Ratios (OR) were estimated adjusting for the following potential confounders: gender, age, residence area, smoking habit, educational level, previous chemotherapy treatment, alcohol consumption and exposure to electromagnetic fields, radiation, pesticides and aromatic hydrocarbons.
No association was observed between regular use of coffee and any type of leukaemia. A small protective effect of tea intake was found among myeloid malignancies, which was more evident among AML (OR = 0.68, 95%CI: 0.49–0.94). However, no clear dose-response relation was found.
The lower risk of leukaemia among regular coffee consumers, reported by a few of previous small studies, was not confirmed. The protective effect of tea on the AML risk is only partly consistent with results from other investigations.