The verdict is in – coffee is good for the body. News of the health benefits of coffee comes as California is considering labeling coffee as a carcinogen.
An article in the Annual Review of Nutrition looks at a meta-analysis of 127 studies that analyzed the effects of coffee on human health. Conducted at Italy’s University of Catania, the analysis was completed without funding from beverage companies.
The Washington Post reported that the meta-analysis found evidence that drinking coffee reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease by 5%, and reduces the risk of Type 2 diabetes and Parkinson’s disease by 30%. They also found evidence that coffee decreases the risk of several types of cancer, including breast, colon, colorectal, prostate and endometrial.
According to the research, coffee contains natural antioxidants that reduce free radicals. Coffee can also repair DNA, reducing the risk of cells becoming cancerous.
Despite its caffeine content, coffee is a natural anti-inflammatory that calms the body and makes it easier to combat stress.
The most popular drink in the world helps ward off Parkinson’s disease and Type 2 diabetes by improving the efficiency of enzymes that regulate glucose and insulin metabolism.
Data shows that 54% of Americans over the age of 18 drink three, 9-ounce cups of coffee each day. Studies have shown that you need to drink between four and five 8-ounce cups of coffee per day to maximize the benefits of this drink, or about two Starbucks “grande” drinks.
While the research has been overwhelmingly positive, there is one group of people who should not indulge in coffee: pregnant women. Coffee can slightly increase the risk of a miscarriage.
Fetuses lack the enzyme needed to metabolize caffeine, so it accumulates when the mother drinks coffee. While the findings are still uncertain, experts recommend that pregnant women give up or severely limit their coffee intake while pregnant.
Still, a pending lawsuit in California is aiming to force big businesses to put cancer warnings on coffee.
A California law called Proposition 65 requires stores to provide “clear and reasonable” warnings to consumers if their products contain cancer-causing ingredients. The lawsuit argues that coffee shops aren’t following the rules, and in a sense, they may be right. The chemical acrylamide is found in small amounts in starchy foods and coffee. Acrylamide forms when food is cooked at a high temperature, such as when coffee beans are roasted.
Acrylamide has been linked to some forms of cancer in rodents. But studies have shown that you would need to drink 2,000 cups of coffee a day to get to dangerous levels. Humans also metabolize coffee differently than rodents and other animals.
CNN also reports that there is “no statistically significant association between dietary acrylamide intake and various cancers.”
The FDA doesn’t seem to be too concerned with the chemical, stating, “Removing any one or two foods from your diet would not have a significant effect on overall exposure to acrylamide.”
All of the evidence appears to point to coffee being beneficial to human health. While California’s law aims to educate people, it shouldn’t cause panic.