A link may exist between coffee and the risk of multiple myeloma, which is a type of bone marrow cancer. However, it is worth noting that studies on the topic are few and have not all yielded consistent results.

Aside from the possible increased risk of cancer, the caffeine in coffee can cause various side effects if a person consumes it in excess amounts. Examples of side effects include insomnia and a fast heart rate.

This article discusses the link between coffee and multiple myeloma and whether people with the condition can drink the beverage. It also examines whether sugar plays a role and looks at other dietary elements to avoid.

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According to a 2022 review, limited evidence suggests that coffee may increase the risk of multiple myeloma. The authors reached this conclusion despite inconsistencies among previous studies on the topic. For example, a 2017 Japanese study found no significant relationship between coffee consumption and the disease.

Learn more about the link between cancer and coffee.

As a small amount of research indicates a link between coffee and multiple myeloma, individuals with the condition may wish to avoid it to maximize their recovery. However, if they feel reluctant to abstain from coffee, drinking it in moderation may help prevent some of the side effects of its caffeine content.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reports that 400 milligrams of caffeine — around 4 to 5 cups of coffee — generally does not cause harmful effects in healthy adults. However, people vary widely in their sensitivity to caffeine and the speed with which their body breaks it down. Consequently, not everyone can tolerate this amount.

If a person experiences some of the following effects, it indicates they are drinking excess amounts of coffee:

As adequate sleep is important to general health, someone may need to pay particular attention to the effect of coffee on sleep. A 2017 review found that caffeine consumption typically can cause:

  • prolonged sleep onset
  • decreased total sleep time
  • reduced perceived sleep quality

If a person notices that their coffee intake negatively affects their sleep quality or if they experience other side effects, they need to consider reducing their intake. This might be something to consider for those with multiple myeloma, as they may already feel drained due to their condition or treatments.

Learn more about the effect of caffeine on the body.

Research has not explored the effect of sugar on multiple myeloma specifically, but it has looked at the effect on cancer in general. A 2022 review examined the relationship and found excess sugar consumption had links to increased cancer incidence and death. While sugar raises the risk of obesity, the increased cancer risk appears independent of this effect.

Factors that may underlie the cancer risk include sugar’s capacity to increase inflammation and cause an adverse change in glucose and fat metabolism. The authors conclude that since current nutritional cancer guidelines are silent on the adverse effects of sugar beyond weight gain, perhaps more precautions are necessary.

In contrast, some members of the medical community have differing opinions on the association of sugar with cancer.

Health experts linked to a charity organization, Cancer Research UK, who do not have a connection with the review, suggest sugar precautions are unnecessary.

Learn more about the consequences of overeating sugar.

A 2021 review examined the effect of lifestyle practices on multiple myeloma and found excess caloric intake may play a role. It concluded that obesity may lead to the cancer’s development and decreased survival after diagnosis.

Other than calories, nutrition may also influence the risk. The authors note that the American Cancer Society advises following a diet focusing on plant-based foods. This includes:

  • limiting red meat and processed meat
  • eating a minimum of 1.5 to 2 cups of fruit and 2–3 cups of vegetables per day
  • choosing whole grains rather than refined grains

Learn more about the best foods for multiple myeloma.

Research on coffee and multiple myeloma suggests that the beverage may increase the risk of the disease. That said, studies on the topic are limited and have inconsistent results.

If a person with cancer is reluctant to avoid coffee altogether, they may need to reduce their intake if they have side effects of caffeine. Too much coffee can result in insomnia, fast heart rate, and jitters.

Although evidence indicates a link between sugar and cancer, some medical experts do not believe the association exists.

People with multiple myeloma may benefit from avoiding excess calories while limiting red meat, processed meat, and refined grains.