Exactly How Much Coffee is Healthy?

By Neat Pour Staff |

Wine, beer, even smoking… there are a lot of studies out there to rationalize our vices touting the health benefits of seemingly unhealthy items. Now, a new study of past studies published in BMJ is touting the benefits of coffee and answering the question, “Just how much is healthy.”

The BMJ piece authored by Robin PooleOliver J. KennedyPaul RoderickJonathan A FallowfieldPeter C Hayes, and Julie Parkes “identified 201meta-analyses of observational research and 17 meta-analyses of interventional research.” We’re not really sure entirely what that means, but the conclusion is pretty straightforward. “Coffee consumption was more often associated with benefit than harm over various health outcomes,” the study stated.

Specifically, the researchers claim that three cups of coffee daily is the optimal dosage. The study posits that java heads drinking at said pace logged a 19% lower risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease, a 16% lower risk of mortality from coronary heart disease, and a 30% lower risk of stroke mortality. Women reaped greater benefits than men in the cardiovascular and coronary heart disease categories, but lagged in stroke benefits.

Don’t think that this means that the more coffee you drink, the healthier you’ll get. To the contrary, the scientists reported that the benefits actually diminished with increased consumption.

The experts are also not sure exactly why your body likes coffee so much. “Coffee has a lot of different compounds. We don’t know entirely why it has these benefits, but the evidence suggests there is a synergy between caffeine and the antioxidants in the coffee,” said the paper’s lead author, Robin Poole, specialty registrar in public health at the University of Southampton.

The results also promise lower occurrences of prostate cancer, endometrial cancer, melanoma, oral cancer, leukaemia, non-melanoma skin cancer, and liver cancer among regular consumers of java. Plus, the BLJM entry states that “Coffee drinkers had a 29% lower risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (relative risk 0.71, 0.60 to 0.85), a 27% lower risk of liver fibrosis (odds ratio 0.73, 0.56 to 0.94), and a 39% lower risk of liver cirrhosis (odds ratio 0.61, 0.45 to 0.84).

However, the effects of coffee are not all good. For example, drinking coffee during pregnancy increased the risk of low birth weight, preterm birth, and pregnancy loss. In addition, Eliseo Guallar, professor of epidemiology and medicine at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore used a linked editorial to note that the milk and sugar we often add to our brew is decidedly not healthy.

In conclusion, the info makes for some interesting small talk, but it’s not quite a medical breakthrough. “People who are already drinking moderate amounts of coffee aren’t likely to be harmed by coffee drinking, apart from in pregnancy and the small increased risk of fractures among women, said Poole. “The bottom line is that we suggest it can be a good part of a healthy diet.”

Photo by Marco Verch, CC2.0

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