Coffee consumption and bladder cancer in nonsmokers: a pooled analysis of case–control studies in European countries


Background: Coffee consumption has been associated with an excess bladder cancer risk, but results from epidemiological studies are inconsistent. This association has been long debated, in part due to the potential confounding by smoking. We examined the risk associated with coffee consumption in nonsmokers in a pooled analysis of ten European bladder cancer case–control studies.

Methods: The pooled data set comprises 564 cases and 2929 hospital or population controls who had never smoked. They were enrolled in ten studies conducted in Denmark, Germany, Greece, France, Italy and Spain. Information on coffee consumption and occupation was re-coded following standard criteria. Unconditional logistic regression was applied adjusting for age, study center, occupation and gender.

Results: Seventy-nine percent of the study population reported having drunk coffee, and 2.4% were heavy drinkers, reporting having drunk on average ten or more cups per day. There was no excess risk in ever coffee drinkers (OR = 1.0, 95% CI 0.8–1.3) compared to never drinkers. The risk did not increase monotonically with dose but a statistically significant excess risk was seen for subjects having drunk ten or more cups per day (OR = 1.8, 95% CI 1.0–3.3). This excess was seen in both men and women. There was no evidence of an association of the risk with duration or type of coffee consumption. The pooled results were not dependent on the findings of any specific study, but they depended on the type of controls with an overall excess risk observed only for studies using hospital controls.

Conclusion: Nonsmokers who are heavy coffee drinkers may have a small excess risk of bladder cancer. Although these results cannot be attributed to confounding by smoking, the possibility of bias in control selection cannot be discarded. On the basis of these results, only a very small proportion of cancers of the bladder among nonsmokers could be attributed to coffee drinking.

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Sala, M., Cordier, S., Chang-Claude, J. et al. Coffee consumption and bladder cancer in nonsmokers: a pooled analysis of case–control studies in European countries. Cancer Causes Control 11, 925–931 (2000).

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  • bladder cancer
  • coffee consumption
  • nonsmokers