Although most prospective cohort studies do not support an association between coffee consumption and pancreatic cancer, the findings for alcohol are inconsistent. Recently, a large prospective cohort study of women reported statistically significant elevations in risk of pancreatic cancer for both coffee and alcoholic beverage consumption. We obtained data on coffee, alcohol, and other dietary factors using semiquantitative food frequency questionnaires administered at baseline (1986 in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study and 1980 in the Nurses' Health Study) and in subsequent follow-up questionnaires. Data on other risk factors for pancreatic cancer, including cigarette smoking, were also available. Individuals with a history of cancer at study initiation were excluded from all of the analyses. During the 1,907,222 person-years of follow-up, 288 incident cases of pancreatic cancer were diagnosed. The data were analyzed separately for each cohort, and results were pooled to compute overall relative risks (RR). Neither coffee nor alcohol intakes were associated with an increased risk of pancreatic cancer in either cohort or after pooling the results (pooled RR, 0.62; 95% confidence interval, 0.27-1.43, for >3 cups of coffee/day versus none; and pooled RR, 1.00; 95% confidence interval, 0.57-1.76, for > or = 30 grams of alcohol/day versus none). The associations did not change with analyses examining different latency periods for coffee and alcohol. Similarly, no statistically significant associations were observed for intakes of tea, decaffeinated coffee, total caffeine, or alcoholic beverages. Data from these two large cohorts do not support any overall association between coffee intake or alcohol intake and risk of pancreatic cancer.