When I began drinking coffee around age 12, people would always tell me that it would “stunt my growth.” Joke’s on them — my doctor told me I was done growing when I was 11. But the idea that coffee can somehow stop you from growing taller is a weirdly persistent myth, one that’s taken on new forms with time. The latest coffee/growth myth gaining traction has been around since at least 2008, weirdly resurging in 2020: According to Google Trends, people seem to be searching “does coffee make your boobs smaller?”
As the 5-foot-tall, proud owner of a set of big naturals, I could entertain the idea that coffee stunted my height, but my cup size? Where could we possibly be getting this idea from?
Actual scientific studies, apparently.
In 2008, the British Journal of Cancer published a study documenting data pertaining to 269 women and their caffeine habits. All of the women were at a high risk of developing breast cancer, and half carried CYP1A2*1F, a gene associated with a further elevated risk of breast cancer. Among those who carried this gene, the women who drank three or more cups of coffee per day had smaller breasts than those who drank less.
Some sensationalized comments from one of the oncologists involved in the research is likely responsible for the twisted headlines convincing readers that drinking three cups of coffee will make breasts become smaller. The study actually found that among women who didn’t carry that gene, those who drank more coffee tended to have bigger breasts. Given that there haven’t been follow-up studies on the topic, it’s hard to say what the correlation between coffee consumption and breast size is, if there is one at all.
Considering caffeine consumption has been linked to reduced rates of other cancers, coffee-drinking might help reduce one’s risk for breast cancer, a hypothesis the aforementioned research originally intended to analyze. Other studies have found small indications that this could be true. Instead of focusing on the potentially life-saving benefits of coffee’s ability to reduce rates of breast cancer, though, we choose instead to lament how maybe it could reduce breast size.
But again, there is no real indication that this is true! Maybe people who drink lots of coffee are also more active and eat less than those who don’t and therefore have a smaller breast mass. The thing is, the research we have so far doesn’t point to that reality, either. Hopefully, we can accept the fact that coffee probably doesn’t have any connection to breast size and put the whole theory to rest. Seriously, do you know anyone who actually attributes their boobs shrinking to coffee?