America’s breakfast beverage of choice has received a lot of attention in the past decade. Researchers still disagree on coffee consumption’s relationship, or lack thereof to stroke and heart disease, although two recent large and sophisticated meta-analyses have shown no increased risk, and some protective benefits in both cases. Meanwhile, other researchers have moved on to examine other diseases, and so far, results suggest a surprisingly wide range of benefits associated with coffee consumption. Most recently, scientists have gone so far as to suggest that coffee drinking may reduce your risk of…death. Coffee drinkers will certainly be happy to hear of the many coffee health benefits.
Attention Coffee Drinkers – Coffee Health Benefits
Scientists at the National Cancer Institute have published a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine demonstrating an inverse correlation with coffee consumption and all cause mortality. In the study 229, 119 men and 173, 141 women between the ages of 50 and 71 were followed for 13 years to assess mortality. Notably, participants who had already been diagnosed with cancer, heart disease and stroke were excluded from the study, and an adjustment was made for tobacco-smoking status, as those who drank coffee were also more likely to smoke than those who abstained. After 13 years, inverse associations were observed for deaths due to heart disease, respiratory disease, stroke, injuries and accidents, diabetes, and infections, but not for deaths due to cancer.
However, a joint study between researchers at Harvard University and Tianjin Univeristy in China found a significantly decreased risk of Basal cell carcinoma associated with intake of coffee. Another study in the journal Breast Cancer Research analyzed coffee consumption and incidence of breast cancer in almost 6,000 Swedish women and found that women with a high coffee intake, defined as greater than 5 cups a day, were 57% less likely to be diagnosed with ER-negative breast cancer than those who consumed one of less cup per day. Incidence of ER-positive breast cancer was also reduced, though not as significantly.
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Additional benefits of coffee that have been put forth include:
- Protection Against Atherosclerosis – Among other coffee health benefits, researchers at the National Institute for Food and Nutrition in Rome found that drinking just 200 mL, or 1 cup, of coffee increased resistance of LDL (low density lipoproteins) to oxidation. It’s assumed that coffee’s effectiveness in this regard is due to its high concentration of antioxidants.
- Decreased Risk of Type II Diabetes – In a meta-analysis of 18 studies including information for 457, 922 participants on the relationship between coffee consumption and incidence of diabetes, researchers at The George Institute for International Health, at the University of Sydney, Australia found that increased intake of coffee, caffeinated or decaffeinated, was associated with decreased risk of diabetes.
- Decreased Risk of Depression – A Harvard School of Public Health study analyzing 50,739 women free of depression at baseline and followed for 10 years found that depression risk decreased with increased coffee consumption, up to 4 cups per day. Decaffeinated coffee did not have the same effect.
- Reduced Risk and Slowed Progression of Dementia – A paper published earlier this year in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease demonstrated that higher plasma caffeine levels, presumed to be indicative of coffee intake, were associated with a reduced or delayed onset of dementia in 124 individuals, aged 65-88 years and diagnosed with moderate cognitive impairment.
Perhaps it’s a little overblown (and a little sad, in my humble opinion!) to insist that coffee is the best part of waking up, but waking up healthy…now that’s something to celebrate. Experience the many coffee health benefits today.