- Drinking coffee does more good
than harm, reports a study that sums up evidence from over 200 prior
- Moderate coffee consumption lowers
risk of heart disease, certain types of cancer, and diabetes to name a few
- While three to four cups of coffee
a day helps most, coffee may increase risk of fractures in pregnant women.
Summing up the benefits of coffee from over 200 odd studies, a new study
shows that drinking coffee may be associated with more health benefits than
doing harm. Moderate coffee consumption, three to four cups a day, lowers risk
of heart disease, few types of cancers, diabetes, liver disease and dementia.
While the study recommends coffee for most, pregnant women and those at risk
for fractures are not recommended caffeine due to safety concerns. The study is
published in The BMJ.
The study was a compilation of evidence from over 200 observational
studies that discussed the health benefits and problems associated with coffee
consumption. The study is also in sync with recent studies that have addressed
of drinking coffee
To capture a larger understanding, a team led by Dr Robin Poole,
Specialist Registrar in Public Health at the University of Southampton, and
collaborators from the University of Edinburgh, carried out an umbrella review of
201 observational studies and 17 clinical trial data from all across the
country. An umbrella review provides a high quality summary on the health
benefits of coffee consumption based on previous meta-analyses.
- Largest risk reduction of
all-cause related death was observed in people who consume 3 cups of
coffee a day when compared to non-coffee drinkers. However, consuming more
than 3 cups made the beneficial effects less profound and added a higher
lowers risk of several cancers including prostate, endometrial,
skin and liver cancer.
- It also reduced the risk of type 2
diabetes, gallstones, gout.
- The largest risk reduction benefit
was for liver conditions such as liver cirrhosis.
- Consumption of coffee was also beneficially associated with
Parkinson's disease depression and Alzheimer's disease.
- Coffee consumption is not recommended
for pregnant women due to increase in risk of fractures. Likewise, it is
also not recommended for people who are prone to fractures.
Limitations of the
Since most of the data came from observational studies, the causal effect
cannot be determined, lowering the quality of the evidence. Also, factors like
smoking, lifestyle, food habits, and exercise varied vastly from study to
study. The team therefore did not rule out the effect of such factors on the
benefits or harm of coffee consumption. The fact that coffee is often consumed
with products such as milk, refined sugars and other additives are also not
considered while calculating the health benefits. Controlled randomized trials
are required to accurately weigh the harms and benefits of coffee consumption.
‘Three to four cups of coffee a day lowers risk of heart disease, cancers and diabetes.’
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In a linked editorial, Eliseo Guallar, at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg
School of Public Health said that although we can be reassured that coffee
intake is generally safe, doctors should not recommend drinking coffee to
prevent disease - and people should not start drinking coffee for health
Ultimately, the study shows that "moderate" coffee consumption is safe
and can be incorporated into the healthy diet of most of the adult population.
- Coffee consumption and health: umbrella review of meta-analyses of multiple health outcomes, The BMJ - (http://www.bmj.com/content/359/bmj.j5024)