“Discovering Coffee’s Unique Health Benefits”

Earlier this year, Life Extension Magazine published a great article by Michael Downey entitled, “Discovering Coffee’s Unique Health Benefits,” which includes a range of significant recent research into the benefits of coffee consumption. While we here at Coffeebar consider ourselves pretty well-versed in the benefits of coffee, and consider ourselves to be advocates of the complex beverage and its corresponding health benefits, we were blown away by some of this information!

Ultimately, the article concludes that those who drink the most coffee have a substantially reduced risk of developing a host of serious and life-threatening diseases, including cancer, liver disease, cognitive decline and DNA damage. As if we needed more reason to enjoy our daily caffeine fix…! While the average American coffee drinker consumes about 3.1 cups per day, Downey’s article cites extensive research which indicates that higher volumes — up to 4 to 12 cups daily — can help prevent most major killers, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, liver disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

The article is quite long and scientific, but some of its main points and conclusions are outlined below. To read the article in its entirety, as well as to find citation information, please click on this link to view the article online, or click here to download a PDF copy.

– For starters, says the article, coffee is the greatest source of antioxidants in the American diet.

– In case-controlled human studies, compared to coffee abstainers, those who drank the most coffee cut their risks of breast cancer by 57% and diabetes by 67%.

Diabetes Management

– Scientific studies have found that regular coffee consumption lowers the risk of Type 2 diabetes by up to 67% — likely a result of reduced levels of blood glucose, increased insulin sensitivity, and decreased storage of both fat and carbohydrate.

– A 2009 meta-analysis in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that every additional cup per day of caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee lowered the risk of diabetes by 5 to 10%.

– In fact, many epidemiological studies show that the risk of diabetes drops directly according to the amount of coffee consumed. For instance, scientists found overall risk is reduced by: 13% with one cup a day; 47% with 4 cups a day; 67% with 12 cups a day.

Cancer Risk Reduction

– At a time when prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death among American men (after lung cancer), a study in a June issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute reported that men who drank over 6 cups of coffee a day had an 18% lower risk of prostate cancer, and a 40% lower risk of aggressive or lethal prostate cancer. This effect was noted for both caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee.

– With breast cancer ranked as the second-leading cause of cancer death among women (after lung cancer), a recent study found that coffee consumption may help prevent a specific form of this disease. A May 2011 issue of Breast Cancer Research reported that postmenopausal women who consumed 5 cups of coffee daily exhibited a 57% decrease in their risk of developing ER-negative breast cancer, a form that is especially difficult to treat.

– A large meta-analysis has reviewed the combined data from 24 previous studies and found an overall 30% lower incidence of colorectal cancer (the second most common cause of cancer-related deaths in the US overall) among those categorized as heavy coffee drinkers.

– A case control study found that individuals who consumed more than three cups of coffee daily had a 40% lower risk of oral, pharyngeal, and esophageal cancers, compared to those who drank one cup of coffee or less each day.

– In recent years, however, more studies suggest a substantially reduced risk of liver diseaseamong coffee drinkers. In a 2005 study, for example, just one cup a day was associated with a 42% lower risk of liver cancer. A number of studies have reported similar conclusions.

Cardiovascular Disease

– While it is commonly heard that coffee raises blood pressure and increases the risk of CVD, scientific studies actually show that coffee’s compounds lower blood pressure over the long term, decrease risk of cardiovascular disease, and may reduce risk of stroke. Daily coffee consumption decreases blood pressure readings after just 8 weeks, believed to be a result of the beneficial action of chlorogenic acids on the arteries.

– Longer-term, drinking coffee cuts the risk of death from cardiovascular disease. A 15-year study of over 41,000 women found the risk of death from cardiovascular disease was 24% lower among those consuming 1 to 3 cups of coffee daily, which was confirmed by other studies on men and women.

– Preventing cardiovascular disease at the cellular level, just one cup of coffee inhibited platelet aggregation within one hour, regardless of its caffeine content.

Liver Disease

– Scientists have found the risk of liver cirrhosis, and of dying from this disease, can be greatly reduced by coffee consumption. Those drinking 4 cups of coffee daily exhibited a full 84% lower risk of cirrhosis, according to a study in the Annals of Epidemiology. This is consistent with an earlier 8-year study of over 120,000 people that found that each cup of coffee daily lowered the risk of dying from cirrhosis by 23%.

Cognitive Decline

– Studies are finding that greater daily consumption of caffeinated coffee cuts the risk of both Alzheimer’s and dementia later in life. One mouse study has far-reaching implications for humans: researchers found that moderate caffeine intake – equivalent to human consumption of 5 cups of coffee daily – began to reverse Alzheimer’s damage in just 5 weeks.

– In 2011, scientists concluded that coffee may be the best source of the caffeine shown to protect against cognitive decline.

– Caffeinated coffee has also been associated with protection against Parkinson’s disease, the second most common neurodegenerative disorder after Alzheimer’s. A study of 29,000 individuals found that one to four cups daily decreased the risk of Parkinson’s by 47% and 5 or more cups decreased the risk by 60%.

DNA Damage

– Studies show that higher coffee consumption decreases levels of oxidative DNA damage, which in turn inhibits both cancer and aging. A 2011 study confirmed coffee’s DNA-related effect on cancer risk: researchers found that regular coffee drinkers enjoyed a 13% decreased risk of cancers generally, and those who consumed high levels of coffee enjoyed an 18% decreased risk.

Conclusion

Although many people assume they should limit their coffee intake, a wealth of scientific research suggests that its wide-ranging health benefits increase with the amount consumed. Additionally, sound scientific studies have found that the common fears about excess coffee consumption are invalid, and higher intake means bigger benefits.

Those who drink the most coffee have a substantially reduced risk of developing diabetes, cancer, liver disease, cognitive decline, and DNA damage, in addition to a number of other health benefits of coffee’s complex phytochemistry.

So feel free to indulge your coffee desires, and feel good about treating your body in the process. And thank you, incredible coffee bean, thank you, for your multitude of benefits — in addition to your deliciousness!

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