Coffee found to benefit health

Drinking coffee is ‘more likely to benefit health than to harm it', with three to four cups per day offering the greatest benefit, new research has revealed.

However, drinking coffee during pregnancy may cause harm, the findings show.

UK researchers analysed evidence from over 200 studies and found that drinking coffee each day is linked with a lower risk of developing heart disease and a lower risk of death, compared with drinking no coffee.

The largest reduction in the risk of death was found to be among those who consumed three cups of coffee per day. Increasing consumption to more than three cups did not result in harm, but the beneficial effect was less pronounced.

Coffee consumption was also linked with a lower risk of some cancers, including prostate, liver and endometrial cancer, as well as type 2 diabetes, gallstones and gout.

The greatest benefit was linked with liver conditions, such as cirrhosis.

Coffee consumption was also linked to a reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease, depression and Parkinson's disease.

However, the researchers from the University of Southampton did find that drinking coffee during pregnancy could cause harm and the drink may be linked to a very small increased risk of fracture in some women.

They acknowledged that the included studies used mainly observational data, which provides lower quality evidence, so no firm conclusions could be drawn about cause and effect. However, they said that their findings back up other recent reviews and studies of coffee intake.

As a result, they believe that excluding pregnancy and women at risk of fracture, ‘coffee drinking appears safe within usual patterns of consumption' and they have called for the drink to be tested in randomised trials. Pregnant women and women at a higher risk of fracture should be excluded from such trials, they said.

Details of these findings are published in the British Medical Journal.

In a linked editorial, Dr Eliseo Guallar at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health commented that while 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 reasons.

He said that there is ‘substantial uncertainty' about the effects of higher levels of intake and noted that coffee is often consumed with products rich in refined sugars and unhealthy fats, which may ‘independently contribute to adverse health outcomes'.

However, he concluded that ‘moderate coffee consumption seems remarkably safe, and it can be incorporated as part of a healthy diet by most of the adult population'.


[Posted: Thu 23/11/2017]

Top of page

Back to News