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6 Pros and 3 Cons of Coffee (According to Research)

6 Pros and 3 Cons of Coffee (According to Research) content piece image

It seems barely a day goes by without the latest scare story or wonder benefit of coffee hitting the headlines somewhere. Opinion on whether this staple drink is good or bad for our health still remains divided. Here we take a look at some of the commonly touted reasons why we should (or shouldn’t) reach for our coffee break brew.

No proven link to cancer

Despite being classified as “possibly” carcinogenic since 1991, the cancer risk of coffee has been downgraded by The International Agency for Research on Cancer, as a result of insufficient evidence to label it as carcinogenic. However, the IARC suggest that drinking fluids above 65C, coffee or other, could be linked to oesophageal cancer, so maybe iced coffee would be a better choice?

Help to stabilise free radicals in the body

A study from Monash University and Illycaffè showed that under certain conditions coffee can act as an antioxidant. While we probably won’t see coffee recommended as one of our 5-a-day, maybe drinking coffee could help to top up our daily antioxidant levels?

Improved liver health

In 2015, a meta-analysis of sixteen studies indicated that coffee consumption can significantly reduce the risk for hepatic fibrosis and cirrhosis. Possible explanations for this include the downregulation of expression of α-smooth muscle actin and procollagen type Ic, reduced collagen production, and promotion of liver healing. 

Extended longevity 

A recent Harvard study showed that moderate consumption of coffee (3-5 cups daily) may reduce premature death due to several diseases, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and suicide. One reason for this could be the presence of bioactive compounds in coffee, which are associated with reduced insulin resistance and inflammation. 

Reduced tinnitus risk

Tinnitus is a condition which causes a person to hear sounds that appear to come from inside the body. A study demonstrated that women who drank 4-6 cups of coffee a day had a lower risk of developing tinnitus than women who only drank one and a half cups a day. So while coffee may give you a buzz, hopefully it won’t leave your ears ringing.

Even used grounds could benefit health

Used coffee grounds have been found to contain high levels of phenols, a type of antioxidant known to be beneficial to health. This research highlights the potential of these leftovers to enhance health effects of other food products. So maybe we will soon have to think twice before throwing our spent grounds in the bin.

That’s the good, now what about the bad?

Heart health

Many studies have looked at the link between coffee and heart health. One such study from 2015 indicated an increased risk of Coronary Heart Disease was found in those who consumed over 2 cups per day of Italian-style coffee (espresso and mocha). However, the adverse effects didn’t seem to be related to plasma lipid changes such as cholesterol levels.

Risks in pregnancy

A meta-analysis showed that low birth weight was linked to high maternal caffeine intake during pregnancy; for every additional cup of coffee consumed per day during pregnancy, a 3.0% increase was seen in the chance of the baby being born with a low birth weight. Many healthcare providers now recommend that pregnant women limit their caffeine intake to no more than 200 mg a day. 

Impact on zzzzzzz

For the students past and present reading this, who hasn’t relied on coffee to get them through a late-night revision session or that early-morning lecture? Coffee is commonly used as a pick me up for drowsiness and a fuel for all-nighters, thanks to its ability to boost our alertness. Unsurprisingly, research has shown that increased caffeine intake reduces total sleep time and sleep efficiency, as well as worsening the quality of sleep. Decaf anyone?

The list could go on and on. Regardless of your drink of choice, enjoy your coffee break! 

We’d love to hear your opinion on coffee, is it a wonder drink or your last choice of beverage? Comment below and don’t forget to share and subscribe.