Decreasing caffeine intake may not help women prevent premenstrual syndrome (PMS), a team of researchers reported. Findings from the study are published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

Women with PMS are commonly advised to reduce caffeine intake but evidence supporting this is limited. Researchers from the University of Massachusetts and Harvard Medical School conducted a case-control study evaluating the association between total caffeine, coffee, and tea intake and PMS development as part of the prospective Nurses’ Health Study II.

At baseline, all study participants were PMS-free. PMS cases included a clinician’s diagnosis of PMS based on biennial questionnaires; symptom timing and moderate-to-severe impact and severity of symptoms were also confirmed based on a retrospective questionnaire (n=1,234). Participants in the control group did not report PMS and confirmed having no or few mild symptoms with limited personal impact (n=2,426). 

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Intake of caffeine, coffee, and tea were assessed by questionnaires every 4 years, and data on smoking, body weight, and other factors were updated every 2–4 years. 

The study showed that total caffeine intake was not associated with PMS after adjusting for age, smoking, and other factors. The odds ratio between women with the highest and lowest caffeine intake was 0.79 (95% CI: 0.61, 1.04; P=0.31). Also, consuming high caffeinated coffee was not associated with the risk of PMS or symptoms such as breast tenderness (OR for ≥4 cups daily vs. <1 cup monthly: 0.73, 95% CI: 0.48, 1.12; P=0.44). 

Researchers concluded that current recommendations for women to minimize caffeine intake may not help prevent PMS.

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