I am addicted to coffee and proud of it. I look forward to the ritual of that morning cup of coffee to start my day. I felt guilty for many years with the thought that maybe it was not such a healthy thing to be drinking. However, as more studies have been done, I feel pretty good about my morning java.
In the early coffee drinking years there was a concern that it caused pancreatic cancer. That is because when the studies were done, they did not control for cigarette smoking and other risk factors for pancreatic cancer. It turns out that coffee drinking and cigarette smoking go together for many and that is how coffee got the bad rap. It was the cigarette smoke and not the coffee that increased the risk for pancreatic cancer.
Now we know that there are actual benefits to coffee drinking. There are many. Here are a few. Read on.
Coffee and the Brain
Coffee helps with alertness and the ability to focus. A study done at Pennsylvania State University found that 1 to 2 cups of coffee a day improve concentration and memory.
A study done by the University of South Florida and the University of Miami found that in patients with mild cognitive impairment, those who drank three cups of caffeinated coffee regularly had a slower progression to Alzheimer’s disease by several years. Coffee may prevent dementia altogether.
Several studies have found that those who drink caffeinated coffee have a decreased risk for developing Parkinson’s disease. In addition, a recent study found that those with Parkinson’s disease who were given caffeine (the equivalent of between 2 and 4 cups of coffee a day) had significantly improved movement.
A research study of over 50,000 women found that drinking 4 or more cups of caffeinated coffee daily decreased the incidence of depression by 20% as compared to those who did not drink coffee. A smaller study done in Finland found that men who were frequent coffee drinkers were less likely to commit suicide.
Coffee and Cancer Prevention
Research has found that women who drank the equivalent of three or more cups of caffeinated coffee daily had a 20% decrease in the risk of developing basal cell cancer. Men had a 9% decreased risk.
Yet another study found that women who drank four or more cups of caffeinated coffee daily had a 25% decreased risk of developing endometrial cancer when compared to women who drank one cup or less daily.
Yet another study found that those who drank four or more cups of caffeinated coffee daily had a 39% decrease in oral cavity cancers.
Coffee and Diabetes and Heart Disease
Several studies have confirmed that those who drink four or more cups of coffee daily have a 50% decreased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Another study has found that coffee in moderation (described as 2 cups a day) decreased the risk of heart failure by 11%.
Of course coffee does have some risks. It can precipitate heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux. Some people may get jittery if they overindulge, and it can cause palpitations in others. Adding sugar, syrups and cream can turn coffee into a high calorie drink. The caffeine addiction is real for habitual coffee drinkers and withdrawl can cause a wicked headache. However, overall it is relatively safe.
I am not urging anyone to start drinking coffee, but I would like to ease the guilt of those coffee drinkers who have been worrying about its safety. Drink your coffee but remember (which will be easier for you to do if you drink coffee!) as in all things, moderation is the key.