May I ask you a personal question? Do your breasts hurt?
If you answered “yes,” you are not alone. According to research, many women say "my boobs hurt" or "my boobs are sore" at some point or another. For many of us, this pain will come around menstruation, when breasts tend to be bigger and more sensitive anyway. But for other women, these uncomfortable feelings just don’t want to go away.
Since I asked the personal question it’s only fair that I answer it too so here goes—yes, they sure can and do! And I have a young son who loves to crawl up on my lap and too often I have to sort of move to one side to make sure he’s not bumping up too hard against “the girls”.
Not too long ago, I got to thinking about the situation and why breasts can so often get sore and painful for so many women, myself included. It struck me how when I was pregnant, rather than have the increased sensitivity and pain that so many women report during this time, mine actually felt better. Then I got to thinking—what, besides the pregnancy itself, was different during those two times I was expecting? And before long it hit me—in both pregnancies I almost completely eliminated caffeine.
This epiphany got me to thinking even more, and then it got me doing research. What I realized is that now that I’m a busy mom of two boys who works from home and tries to keep an average of about 25 plates in the air at all times, I have upped my caffeine intake more than ever. Just ask the friendly baristas at my neighborhood Starbucks—they’ll tell you. I love my caffeine and I have two big doses of it a day—at home in the morning, and at Starbucks literally every afternoon.
So could this increase in my beloved coffee be the reason for my sensitive girls? I got on the computer and did some research, and lo and behold, there is a direct connection between caffeine and breast tenderness.
For example, in a study conducted by researchers at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, 61 percent of women with breast pain had a reduction in breast tenderness when they cut out caffeine. Although the study was not completely conclusive, it seems like cutting back on caffeinated drinks like coffee, tea, and soda that contains caffeine wouldn’t be a bad idea.
Another article I found said that cyclic breast pain (or pain related to the menstrual cycle) can be made worse by certain foods and beverages and medications. Caffeine, they said, is one of the worst. Caffeine apparently contains a chemical called methylxanthine that causes blood vessels to dilate. This swelling can then cause the breasts to distend and become more painful. The article stressed that the effect that caffeine has on our breasts does not cause or lead to cancer, and that each woman has to weigh the discomfort against her love for coffee.
As much as I adore coffee, I think it’s time to cut back a bit, at least on the caffeine. Over the next few weeks I’ll gradually cut back on my regular coffee, substituting decaf instead for part of it. I’d like to see what happens if I halve my caffeine consumption, and I’ll be sure to let you all know what happens.