Benefits of drinking coffee outweigh risks
Coffee is enjoyed by millions of people every day and the 'coffee experience' has become a staple of our modern life and culture. While the current body of research related to the effects of coffee consumption on human health has been contradictory, a study in the June issue of Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, which is published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), found that the potential benefits of moderate coffee drinking outweigh the risks in adult consumers for the majority of major health outcomes considered.
The review was used to create an exhaustive list of the potential health benefits and risks of coffee consumption on the following health outcomes:
- Total Mortality
- Cardiovascular Disease
- Metabolic Health
- Neurological Disorders
- Gastrointestinal Conditions
- Other Miscellaneous Health Outcomes
The authors noted causality of risks and benefits cannot be established for either with the research currently available as they are largely based on observational data. Further research is needed to quantify the risk-benefit balance for coffee consumption, as well as identify which of coffee's many active ingredients, or indeed the combination of such, that could be inducing these health benefits.
Moderate coffee drinking reduces many risks
Although the American Society for Nutrition’s popular “controversy session” at Experimental Biology 2007 focuses on the health effects of coffee drinking, panel chair Dr. James Coughlin, a toxicology/safety consultant at Coughlin & Associates, says that recent advances in epidemiologic and experimental knowledge have transformed many of the negative health myths about coffee drinking into validated health benefits.
Indeed, panel co-chair Dan Steffen, who follows coffee and health issues in the Scientific and Regulatory Affairs group of Kraft Foods, note that the “controversy” is often to educate a wider audience about this transformation in understanding.
Coffee is among the most widely consumed beverages in the world, and Dr. Coughlin says that the preponderance of scientific evidence - some by the panelists - suggests that moderate coffee consumption (3-5 cups per day) may be associated with reduced risk of certain disease conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease. Some research in neuropharamacology suggests that one cup of coffee can halve the risk of Parkinson’s disease. Other studies have found it reduces the risk of Alzheimer's disease, kidney stones, gallstones, depression and even suicide.
Dr. Coughlin and two distinguished researchers discussed some of the benefits - and a couple of the remaining increased risk factors (possible increase in blood pressure and plasma homocysteine) - on April 30 at the Experimental Biology meeting in Washington, DC.
Dr. Rob van Dam, an epidemiologist at the Harvard School of Public Health and the Harvard Medical School, studies the link between diet and the development of type 2 diabetes. Worldwide, an estimated 171 million persons have diabetes, mostly type 2 diabetes, and an alarming increase to 366 million persons is expected for the year 2030. While increased physical activity and restriction of energy intake can substantially reduce risk of type 2 diabetes, he believes insight into the role of other lifestyle factors may contribute to additional prevention strategies for type 2 diabetes.
In recent epidemiological studies in the U.S., Europe and Japan, persons who were heavy coffee consumers had a lower risk of type 2 diabetes than persons who consumed little coffee. Interestingly, he says, associations were similar for caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee, suggesting that coffee components other than caffeine may be beneficial for glucose metabolism.
Coffee contains hundreds of components including substantial amounts of chlorogenic acid, caffeine, magnesium, potassium, vitamin B3, trigonelline, and lignans. Limited evidence suggests that coffee may improve glucose metabolism by reducing the rate of intestinal glucose absorption and by stimulating the secretion of the gut hormone glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) that is beneficial for the secretion of insulin. However, most mechanistic research on coffee and glucose metabolism has been done in animals and in lab tubes and therefore metabolic studies in humans are currently being conducted. Further research may lead to the development or selection of coffee types with improved health effects.
Dr. Lenore Arab, a nutritional epidemiologist in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, notes that the first coffee controversy dates back 430 years when in 1570 some monks petitioned the pope to condemn this drink, so popular among Muslims. Pope Clement VIII, liking how it kept the monks from falling sleep during mass, purportedly blessed it instead. The rest, including the United States’ wholesale conversion to coffee following the Boston Tea Party, is history.
In reviewing the latest epidemiologic literature on cancers and coffee, Dr. Arab has found there to be close to 400 studies of the associations between coffee consumption and cancers various at various sites. The earlier controversy with regard to colon cancer was based on flawed analyses, she says. More thorough analyses and the accumulation of evidence suggest no negative effect on the incidence of colon cancer, and possible protective effects for adenomas of the colon as well as for rectal cancer and liver cancer. Mechanisms which might contribute to a possible anticarcinogenic effect include reduction in cholesterol, bile acid and neutral sterol secretion in the colon, increased colonic motility and reduced exposure of epithelium to carcinogens, the ability of diterpenes to reduce genotoxicity of carcinogens, and lower DNA adduct formation, and the ability of caffeic acid and chlorogenic acid to decreased DNA methylation. In other cancers - breast, ovarian, and prostate - the evidence is not suggestive of either risk or protection. There are two areas, says Dr. Arab, in which there is some evidence of increased risk: leukemia and stomach cancer. The evidence for the former is intriguing, for the latter insubstantial. She concludes that a systematic review of the newer data for liver, rectal, stomach cancer and for childhood leukemia is due.
Caffeine intake associated with reduced levels of erectile dysfunction
Men who drink the equivalent caffeine level of two to three cups of coffee a day are less likely to have erectile dysfunction (ED), according to researchers from The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth).
The results of a study published (May 2015) in PLOS ONE found that men who consumed between 85 and 170 milligrams of caffeine a day were 42 percent less likely to report ED, while those who drank between 171 and 303 milligrams of caffeine a day were 39 percent less likely to report ED compared to those who drank zero to seven milligrams a day. This trend was also true among overweight, obese and hypertensive men.
"Even though we saw a reduction in the prevalence of ED with men who were obese, overweight and hypertensive, that was not true of men with diabetes. Diabetes is one of the strongest risk factors for ED, so this was not surprising," said David S. Lopez, Dr.P.H., M.P.H., lead author and assistant professor at UTHealth School of Public Health.
According to the journal article, the suggested biological mechanism is that caffeine triggers a series of pharmacological effects that lead to the relaxation of the penile helicine arteries and the cavernous smooth muscle that lines cavernosal spaces, thus increasing penile blood flow.
In the United States, 18.4 percent of men 20 years and older have ED, suggesting that more than 18 million men are affected. Caffeine is consumed by more than 85 percent of adults, according to previous research.
Data for the study came from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and ED was assessed by a single question during a computer-assisted interview. Caffeine sources in the study included coffee, tea, soda and sports drinks.
New evidence that caffeine is a healthful antioxidant in coffee
Scientists are reporting an in-depth analysis of how the caffeine in coffee, tea, and other foods seems to protect against conditions such as Alzheimer's disease and heart disease on the most fundamental levels. The report, which describes the chemistry behind caffeine's antioxidant effects, appears in ACS' The Journal of Physical Chemistry.
Annia Galano and Jorge Rafael León-Carmona describe evidence suggesting that coffee is one of the richest sources of healthful antioxidants in the average person's diet. Some of the newest research points to caffeine (also present in tea, cocoa, and other foods) as the source of powerful antioxidant effects that may help protect people from Alzheimer's and other diseases. However, scientists know little about exactly how caffeine works in scavenging the so-called free radicals that have damaging effects in the body. And those few studies sometimes have reached contradictory conclusions.
In an effort to bolster scientific knowledge about caffeine, they present detailed theoretical calculations on caffeine's interactions with free radicals. Their theoretical conclusions show "excellent" consistency with the results that other scientists have report from animal and other experiments, bolstering the likelihood that caffeine is, indeed, a source of healthful antioxidant activity in coffee.
Drinking coffee may be associated with a lower risk of developing multiple sclerosis
Drinking coffee may be associated with a lower risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 67th Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, April 18 to 25, 2015."Caffeine intake has been associated with a reduced risk of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases, and our study shows that coffee intake may also protect against MS, supporting the idea that the drug may have protective effects for the brain," said study author Ellen Mowry, MD, MCR, with Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore and a member of the American Academy of Neurology.
For the study, researchers looked at a Swedish study of 1,629 people with MS and 2,807 healthy people, and a U.S. study of 1,159 people with MS and 1,172 healthy people. The studies characterized coffee consumption among persons with MS one and five years before MS symptoms began (as well as 10 years before MS symptoms began in the Swedish study) and compared it to coffee consumption of people who did not have MS at similar time periods. The study also accounted for other factors such as age, sex, smoking, body mass index, and sun exposure habits.
The Swedish study found that compared to people who drank at least six cups of coffee per day during the year before symptoms appeared, those who did not drink coffee had about a one and a half times increased risk of developing MS. Drinking large amounts of coffee five or 10 years before symptoms started was similarly protective.
In the US study, people who didn't drink coffee were also about one and a half times more likely to develop the disease than those who drank four or more cups of coffee per day in the year before symptoms started to develop the disease.
"Caffeine should be studied for its impact on relapses and long-term disability in MS as well," said Mowry.
Drinking coffee may reduce the risk of liver cirrhosis
Regular consumption of coffee was linked with a reduced risk of liver cirrhosis in a review of relevant studies published before July 2015.
In patients with cirrhosis, the liver becomes scarred often as a result of long-term and persistent injury from toxins like alcohol and viruses like hepatitis C. It can be fatal because it increases the risk of liver failure and cancer.
The analysis found that an extra 2 cups of coffee per day may reduce the risk of cirrhosis by 44%, and it may nearly halve the risk of dying from cirrhosis.
"Coffee appeared to protect against cirrhosis.This could be an important finding for patients at risk of cirrhosis to help to improve their health outcomes," said Dr. O. J. Kennedy, lead author of the analysis in the journal Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics. "However, we now need robust clinical trials to investigate the wider benefits and harms of coffee so that doctors can make specific recommendations to patients."
Caffeine consumption = decreased risk of liver disease
Caffeine consumption has long been associated with decreased risk of liver disease and reduced fibrosis in patients with chronic liver disease. Now, newly published research confirms that coffee caffeine consumption reduces the risk of advanced fibrosis in those with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Findings published in the February, 2012 issue of Hepatology, a journal of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, show that increased coffee intake, specifically among patients with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), decreases risk of hepatic fibrosis.
The steady increase in rates of diabetes, obesity, and metabolic syndrome over the past 20 years has given rise to greater prevalence of NAFLD. In fact, experts now believe NAFLD is the leading cause of chronic liver disease in the U.S., surpassing both hepatitis B and C. The majority of patients will have isolated fatty liver which has a very low likelihood of developing progressive liver disease. However, a subset of patients will have NASH, which is characterized by inflammation of the liver, destruction of liver cells, and possibly scarring of the liver. Progression to cirrhosis (advanced scarring of the liver) may occur in about 10-11% of NASH patients over a 15 year period, although this is highly variable.
To enhance understanding of the correlation between coffee consumption and the prevalence and severity of NAFLD, a team led by Dr. Stephen Harrison, Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army at Brooke Army Medical Center in Fort Sam Houston, Texas surveyed participants from a previous NAFLD study as well as NASH patients treated at the center's hepatology clinic. The 306 participants were asked about caffeine coffee consumption and categorized into four groups: patients with no sign of fibrosis on ultrasound (control), steatosis, NASH stage 0-1, and NASH stage 2-4.
Researchers found that the average milligrams in total caffeine consumption per day in the control, steatosis, Nash 0-1, and Nash 2-4 groups was 307, 229, 351 and 252; average milligrams of coffee intake per day was 228, 160, 255, and 152, respectively. There was a significant difference in caffeine consumption between patients in the steatosis group compared to those with NASH stage 0-1. Coffee consumption was significantly greater for patients with NASH stage 0-1, with 58% of caffeine intake from regular coffee, than with NASH stage 2-4 patients at only 36% of caffeine consumption from regular coffee.
Multiple analyses showed a negative correlation between coffee consumption and risk of hepatic fibrosis. "Our study is the first to demonstrate a histopatholgic relationship between fatty liver disease and estimated coffee intake," concludes Dr. Harrison. "Patients with NASH may benefit from moderate coffee consumption that decreases risk of advanced fibrosis. Further prospective research should examine the amount of coffee intake on clinical outcomes."
Increased Caffeinated Coffee Consumption Associated With Decreased Risk of Depression in Women
The risk of depression appears to decrease for women with increasing consumption of caffeinated coffee, according to a report in the September 26, 2011 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.
Caffeine is the most frequently used central nervous system stimulant in the world, and approximately 80 percent of consumption is in the form of coffee, according to background information in the article. Previous research, including one prospective study among men, has suggested an association between coffee consumption and depression risk. Because depression is a chronic and recurrent condition that affects twice as many women as men, including approximately one of every five U.S. women during their lifetime, “identification of risk factors for depression among women and the development of new preventive strategies are, therefore, a public health priority,” write the authors. They sought to examine whether, in women, consumption of caffeine or certain caffeinated beverages is associated with the risk of depression.
Michel Lucas, Ph.D., R.D., from the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, and colleagues studied 50,739 U.S. women who participated in the Nurses’ Health Study. Participants, who had a mean (average) age of 63, had no depression at the start of the study in 1996 and were prospectively followed up with through June 2006. Researchers measured caffeine consumption through questionnaires completed from May 1980 through April 2004, including the frequency that caffeinated and noncaffeinated coffee, nonherbal tea, caffeinated soft drinks (sugared or low-calorie colas), caffeine-free soft drinks (sugared or low-calorie caffeine-free colas or other carbonated beverages) and chocolate were usually consumed in the previous 12 months. The authors defined depression as reporting a new diagnosis of clinical depression and beginning regular use of antidepressants in the previous two years.
Analysis of the cumulative mean consumption included a two-year latency period; for example, data on caffeine consumption from 1980 through 1994 were used to predict episodes of clinical depression from 1996 through 1998; consumption from 1980 through 1998 were used for the 1998 through 2000 follow-up period; and so on. During the 10-year follow-up period from 1996 to 2006, researchers identified 2,607 incident (new-onset) cases of depression. When compared with women who consumed one cup of caffeinated coffee or less per week, those who consumed two to three cups per day had a 15 percent decrease in relative risk for depression, and those consuming four cups or more per day had a 20 percent decrease in relative risk. Compared with women in the lowest (less than 100 milligrams [mg] per day) categories of caffeine consumption, those in the highest category (550 mg per day or more) had a 20 percent decrease in relative risk of depression. No association was found between intake of decaffeinated coffee and depression risk.
“In this large prospective cohort of older women free of clinical depression or severe depressive symptoms at baseline, risk of depression decreased in a dose-dependent manner with increasing consumption of caffeinated coffee,” write the authors. They note that this observational study “cannot prove that caffeine or caffeinated coffee reduces the risk of depression but only suggests the possibility of such a protective effect.” The authors call for further investigations to confirm their results and to determine whether usual caffeinated coffee consumption could contribute to prevention or treatment of depression/
Coffee W/O Milk Fights Bad Breath
We all know why Starbucks puts boxes of breath mints close to the cash register. Your morning latte can create a startling aroma in your mouth, strong enough to startle your co-workers too.
But intriguing research from Tel Aviv University by renowned breath specialist Prof. Mel Rosenberg of TAU's Sackler Faculty of Medicine finds that a coffee extract can inhibit the bacteria that lead to bad breath. laboratory tests have shown that the extract prevents malodorous bacteria from making their presence felt — or smelt.
"Everybody thinks that coffee causes bad breath," says Prof. Rosenberg, "and it's often true, because coffee, which has a dehydrating effect in the mouth, becomes potent when mixed with milk, and can ferment into smelly substances."
But not always. "Contrary to our expectations, we found some components in coffee that actually inhibit bad breath," explains Prof. Rosenberg.
In the laboratory, the team monitored the bacterial odor production of coffee in saliva. In the study, three different brands of coffee were tested: the Israeli brand Elite coffee, Landwer Turkish coffee, and Taster's Choice. Prof. Rosenberg expected to demonstrate the malodor-causing effect of coffee in an in vitro saliva assay developed by Dr. Sarit Levitan in his laboratory. To his surprise, the extracts had the opposite effect.
"The lesson we learned here is one of humility," says Prof. Rosenberg. "We expected coffee would cause bad breath, but there is something inside this magic brew that has the opposite effect."
Prof. Rosenberg would love to isolate the bacterial-inhibiting molecule in order to reap the biggest anti-bacterial benefits from coffee. "It's not the raw extract we will use, he says, "but an active material within it." His latest discovery could be the foundation for an entirely class of mouthwash, breath mints and gum. Purified coffee extract can be added to a breath mint to stop bacteria from forming, stopping bad breath at its source, instead of masking the smell with a mint flavor.
Prof. Rosenberg is a successful scientist and inventor who has already developed a popular mouthwash sold widely in Europe, a pocket-based breath test, and an anti-odor chewing gum.
Coffee consumption may lower blood uric acid levels
High uric acid levels in the blood are a precursor of gout, the most common inflammatory arthritis in adult men. It is believed that coffee and tea consumption may affect uric acid levels but only one study has been conducted to date. A large-scale study published in the June 2007 issue of Arthritis Care & Research (http://www.interscience.wiley.com/journal/arthritiscare) examined the relationship between coffee, tea, caffeine intake, and uric acid levels and found that coffee consumption is associated with lower uric acid levels but that this appears to be due to components other than caffeine.
Coffee is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world; more than 50 percent of Americans drink it at the average rate of 2 cups per day. Because of this widespread consumption, its potential effects have important implications for public and individual health. Led by Hyon K. Choi, of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, the current study was based on the U.S. Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, conducted between 1988 and 1994. It included over 14,000 men and women at least 20 years old who consented to a medical exam in which blood and urine specimens were obtained. Coffee and tea consumption were determined based on responses to a food questionnaire that assessed intake over the previous month. Researchers estimated the amount of caffeine per cup of coffee or tea using data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The results showed that levels of uric acid in the blood significantly decreased with increasing coffee intake, but not with tea intake. In addition, there was no association between total caffeine intake from beverages and uric acid levels. These results were similar to those found in the only previous study on the topic, which was conducted in Japan. Interestingly, there was an association between decaffeinated coffee consumption and uric acid levels. "These findings suggest that components of coffee other than caffeine contribute to the observed inverse association between coffee intake and uric acid levels," the researchers state.
A recent study found that coffee was associated lower C peptide levels (a marker of insulin levels). The researchers in the current study suggest that because there is a strong relationship between insulin resistance and elevated uric acid levels, the decreased insulin levels associated with coffee consumption may lead to lower uric acid levels. Coffee is also a major source of chlorogenic acid, a strong antioxidant, which may improve insulin sensitivity. Chlorogenic acid also helps inhibit glucose absorption in the intestine; in another study decaffeinated coffee seemed to delay intestinal absorption of glucose and increase concentrations of glucagon-like peptide 1, which is well known for its beneficial effects on insulin secretion and action. The researchers note further that their results could be due to an effect of non-caffeine components found in coffee, which would also explain why coffee affected uric acid levels but tea did not.
To examine how coffee consumption might aggravate or protect against this common and excruciatingly painful condition, researchers at the Arthritis Research Centre of Canada, University of British Columbia in Canada, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and Harvard School of Public Health in Boston conducted a prospective study on 45,869 men over age 40 with no history of gout at baseline. Over 12 years of follow-up, Hyon K. Choi, MD, DrPH, and his associates evaluated the relationship between the intake of coffee and the incidence of gout in this high risk population. Their findings, featured in the June 2007 issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism (http://www.interscience.wiley.com/journal/arthritis), provide compelling evidence that drinking 4 or more cups of coffee a day dramatically reduces the risk of gout for men.
Subjects were drawn from an ongoing study of some 50,000 male health professionals, 91 percent white, who were between 40 and 75 years of age in 1986 when the project was initiated. To assess coffee and total caffeine intake, Dr. Choi and his team used a food-frequency questionnaire, updated every 4 years. Participants chose from 9 frequency responses – ranging from never to 2 to 4 cups per week to 6 or more per day – to record their average consumption of coffee, decaffeinated coffee, tea, and other caffeine-containing comestibles, such as cola and chocolate.
Through another questionnaire, the researchers documented 757 newly diagnosed cases meeting the American College of Rheumatology criteria for gout during the follow-up period. Then, they determined the relative risk of incident gout for long-term coffee drinkers divided into 4 groups – less than 1 cup per day, 1 to 3 cups per day, 4 to 5 cups per day, and 6 or more cups per day – as well as for regular drinkers of decaffeinated coffee, tea, and other caffeinated beverages. They also evaluated the impact of other risk factors for gout – body mass index, history of hypertension, alcohol use, and a diet high in red meat and high-fat dairy foods among them – on the association between coffee consumption and gout among the study participants.
Most significantly, the data revealed that the risk for developing gout decreased with increasing coffee consumption. The risk of gout was 40 percent lower for men who drank 4 to 5 cups a day and 59 percent lower for men who drank 6 or more cups a day than for men who never drank coffee. There was also a modest inverse association with decaffeinated coffee consumption. These findings were independent of all other risk factors for gout. Tea drinking and total caffeine intake were both shown to have no effect on the incidence of gout among the subjects. On the mechanism of these findings, Dr. Choi speculates that components of coffee other than caffeine may be responsible for the beverage’s gout-prevention benefits. Among the possibilities, coffee contains the phenol chlorogenic acid, a strong antioxidant.
While not prescribing 4 or more cups a day, this study can help individuals make an informed choice regarding coffee consumption. "Our findings are most directly generalizable to men age 40 years and older, the most gout-prevalent population, with no history of gout," Dr. Choi notes. "Given the potential influence of female hormones on the risk of gout in women and an increased role of dietary impact on uric acid levels among patients with existing gout, prospective studies of these populations would be valuable."