What Are The Health Benefit Of Coffee?
You've landed on our website, so we can assume you like coffee...You've probably heard different opinions from different people on if coffee is healthy or dangerous.
To help you get a better understanding we have done the research for you and summarised new research by Robert H. Shmerling, MD from Harvard Medical School.
Possible health benefits of coffee
Over the last several decades, coffee has been among the most heavily studied dietary components. And the news is mostly good. Moderate coffee consumption (three to four cups per day) has been linked with longer lifespan. In fact, a November 2015 study in Circulation found that coffee consumption was associated with an 8% to 15% reduction in the risk of death (with larger reductions among those with higher coffee consumption). Other studies have found that coffee drinkers may have a reduced risk of:
- cardiovascular disease (including heart attack, heart failure, and stroke)
- type 2 diabetes
- Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease
- colon, uterine and liver cancer
The reason that coffee drinking might be beneficial is unknown. One factor, of course, could be the caffeine, but that can be hard to sort out from the research because many studies do not distinguish whether the coffee is caffeinated or decaffeinated.
A new move by the WHO… and others
In a June 2016 report, the WHO officially lifted coffee from the list of potentially carcinogenic foods. It went on to designate coffee as potentially protective against cancer of the uterus and liver.
And the WHO is not the only organization to include coffee in its list of foods that are probably harmless and possibly healthy. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (commissioned by the secretaries of the US Department of Health and Human Services and the US Department of Agriculture) thoroughly reviewed the evidence and declared that “moderate coffee consumption (three to five cups per day) can be incorporated into a healthy dietary pattern…” And the World Cancer Research Fund International concluded that coffee consumption was linked with a lower risk of several types of cancer.
Should you drink coffee?
Considering all of this good news about coffee consumption, you might feel tempted to increase your intake or to start drinking it if you don’t already.
Here’s my take:
- If you don’t like coffee, there is no current recommendation to drink it anyway. However, if we can figure out why coffee might have health benefits, it’s possible that a medication can be developed that provides those benefits without the side effects (or taste) of coffee or caffeine. Or, faced with a choice of a new medication or coffee, one might choose the latter.
- If you are already a coffee drinker, it should be reassuring that after decades of research, no strong link can be found between coffee intake and cancer and, to the contrary, a number of health benefits seem to accompany coffee consumption. But, I’m not sure the evidence is powerful enough to recommend an increase in your daily habit. One reason is that we don’t know for sure that coffee consumption actually caused the health benefits observed in these studies. Some other, unmeasured factor could be responsible. Another reason is that the overall effect was small. And, it’s worth noting that some people are quite sensitive to the side effects of coffee.
- Moderate your coffee intake. Although we don’t know how much coffee is too much, the risk of side effects is lower with moderation.
- Don’t drink beverages at very high temperatures (i.e., over 149° F). In addition to the potential risk of esophageal cancer, there is a risk of burning yourself.