Is coffee harmless? An expert panel concluded earlier this year that moderate coffee consumption has not been linked to any health problem.
"Strong and consistent evidence shows that consumption of coffee within the moderate range (three to five cups per day...) is not associated with increased risk of major chronic diseases. Moderate coffee consumption can be incorporated into a healthy lifestyle," the panel stated.
‘In those with the gene variant for handling caffeine slowly, high caffeine intake has been linked to a higher risk of hypertension and heart attacks.’
Yet at least for some scientists, it's far from clear that consumption of coffee is harmless. In fact, emerging results from genetics suggest a very different take on one of our favorite drinks: while coffee might be beneficial for some individuals, it very well may be harmful for others.
In a new study, scientists have identified at least one specific location in the genome that determines whether a person processes caffeine quickly or slowly. In those with the gene variant for handling caffeine slowly (roughly 50%) more coffee has been linked to a higher risk of hypertension and heart attacks.
Unfortunately, the genetic testing is expensive, most people have little idea which gene variant they carry. Regardless, the genetics research forces some experts to question the potential associated with drinking coffee.
"There are spectacular metabolic differences in people and to expect that coffee will have the same health effects on everyone is absurd," said Sander Greenland, an emeritus epidemiology professor at UCLA, an expert in research methodology who has studied coffee. "They want to come out with the generalized recommendations? It's laughable."