Wednesday’s Ask Dr. Walt — Conditioning with Caffeine

Dear Dr. Walt,

My buddies and I have a debate over coffee. Is it healthy or not?

—Caffeinated in California

Dear Brewing,

The good news for all coffee drinkers is that it is far more likely to provide benefits than harm. Last year researchers reported that “people who drink three to four cups of coffee a day are more likely to see health benefits than harm.”

The findings, published in the British Medical Journal, reported that people who drink three to four cups per day appeared to be at lower risk for “diabetes, liver disease, dementia, and some cancers,” including endometrial, liver, prostate, and skin cancers.

The researchers reviewed over 200 studies and found that coffee consumption was also linked to lower risk for Parkinson’s disease, metabolic syndrome (pre-diabetes), kidney stones, and gout. And, if you’re really serious about your coffee, the researchers found that drinking up to seven cups of coffee per day was linked to a lower risk of early death.

At about the same time, researchers at the American Heart Association meeting reported that “drinking coffee was linked to a lower risk of heart failure, stroke, and coronary heart disease.”

Those researchers found that “every extra cup of coffee consumed per day reduced each of these conditions by 8%, 7%, and 5%, respectively, up to at least six cups per day.”

Earlier last year, Spanish researchers reported 20,000 people who drank at least four cups of coffee a day had a 64% lower risk of death during their study than those who never or almost never drank coffee.

Furthermore, two studies published in the Annals of Internal Medicine last year also connected coffee consumption to a longer life.

But, all of this good news about coffee might not be strong enough for us doctors to recommend everyone start a coffee habit. An expert from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, MD, says there is no way to know if coffee prevents chronic disease and reduces mortality because there are too many factors to weigh like why people start drinking coffee and what kind of coffee drinks they’re drinking. But, if you enjoy your coffee, likely it’s not going to cause harm.

Dr. Walt

© Copyright WLL, INC. 2018. This blog provides a wide variety of general health information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from your regular physician. If you are concerned about your health, take what you learn from this blog and meet with your personal doctor to discuss your concerns.
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