I’m very much like 100 million or so other Americans in that I drink coffee on a regular basis.  I think we all know someone (like me) who doesn’t function all that well in the morning until about cup number two or three.  Much to my dismay, I remember years ago hearing reports of how drinking coffee could increase the risk for cancer and heart disease.  There has been a tremendous amount of research conducted on coffee.  I recently performed an electronic search through the library for scientific references using the word “coffee” and came up with nearly 23,000 hits.  In a nutshell, the thousands of studies conducted on coffee suggest there are far more health benefits related to drinking coffee than there are risks.  Taylor and Demmig-Adams (2007) published a review article on the health risks and benefits of coffee drinking.  The authors concluded that “The most currently available evidence suggests that coffee drinking can help reduce the risk of several diseases, most notably type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease, although the underlying mechanisms for this effect are still being investigated”.  Other review articles have come up with very similar conclusions.  Other studies also suggest that drinking coffee can help reduce the risk of certain cancers and even heart disease.  One of the reasons coffee may be beneficial for health is that it is loaded with antioxidants.  Antioxidants are molecules that help prevent healthy cells in our body from being damaged.  Even with all the benefits of coffee, there can be a downside to drinking it.  For some, coffee can cause the jitters or the shakes, can increase heart rate, and can result in higher levels of anxiety or nervousness.  Also, those who are pregnant, have hypertension, are at risk for osteoporosis, or have epilepsy should talk to their doctor about drinking coffee.

Taylor S & Demmig-Adams B: To sip or not to sip: the potential health risks and benefits of coffee drinking.  Nutrition & Food Science (2007), Vol 37, pps. 406-418.