COMMENTARY

Fill 'er Up! Health Effects of Coffee

Charles P. Vega, MD

Disclosures

October 03, 2013

In This Article

Best Evidence Review of Health Effects of Coffee

Coffee is one of the most frequently consumed beverages on earth, yet there remain many questions regarding its effects on health. A recent observational study made headlines for finding a positive association between heavy coffee consumption and an increased risk for death among men, but the research had some substantial limitations. Other research certainly suggests that coffee can reduce the risk for diabetes and cardiovascular events. Overall, however, patients will probably have far more to gain by addressing other lifestyle and diet issues besides coffee drinking in their quest for a longer, happier life.

The Study

Liu J, Sui X, Lavie CJ, et al. Association of coffee consumption with all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality. Mayo Clin Proc. 2013 Aug 15. [Epub ahead of print]

The Background

"Doctor, I made some of those changes we talked about last time!" my patient relates with enthusiasm. I am genuinely excited. Ten tortillas per day, lots of Hogan's Heroes reruns, and problem alcohol drinking is no way to go through life, son.

"I stopped drinking coffee!" And my hopes vanish faster than the Baconator® my patient inhaled immediately before his appointment with me. Coffee?! That was never part of the conversation. I can't help but look at my e-chart; yep, 1 cup of coffee each morning. In my analysis, he's safe as kittens regarding any health risk from coffee consumption.

This scene has played out time and again in my practice, and it has reinforced to me that many adults consider coffee drinking a guilty pleasure. If so, there are many guilty individuals out there. According to trade association reports, 83% of US adults now drink coffee, a 5% increase since 2012 and part of an upward trend over the past 2 decades.[1] The majority of Americans drink coffee on a daily basis, and the average number of cups per day among daily drinkers is 3.1.[2]

But what are the health risks associated with that cup of joe? A new study will give anyone in line at their favorite coffee shop something serious to consider.

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