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Coffee, Caffeine & Health

Independent research by scientists worldwide continues to link coffee to significant (and surprising) healthful properties.

Due to overwhelming scientific evidence, coffee has earned a new – and improved – reputation. The latest U.S. Dietary Guidelines recently made an unprecedented recommendation for coffee as part of a healthy lifestyle. 

The NCA is working with a team of scientific experts to compile a comprehensive overview of the research on coffee and health (and there’s a lot). 

In the meantime, we’re highlighting key findings on health issues with the strongest associations to coffee consumption. These include:

  • Cancer
  • Longevity
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Liver health
  • Diabetes
  • Stroke

Here’s what the science is saying about coffee and health:

Coffee & Cancer

SCIENCE: Coffee consumption may offer protective benefits for post-menopausal breast cancer. Consumption of four cups per day was associated with a 10% reduction in postmenopausal cancer risk.

SOURCE: Coffee Intake Decreases Risk of Postmenopausal Breast Cancer: A Dose-Response Meta-Analysis on Prospective Cohort Studies’ by Lafranconi, et. al in Nutrients (2018)


SCIENCE: Coffee drinking is associated with a lower risk of colon cancer in women. A study showed that there was a 20% reduced risk of colon cancer in women who drank more htan 3 cups of coffee day, compared to those who drank less than one or less.

SOURCE: Coffee drinking and colorectal cancer and its sub-sites: a pooled analysis of 8 cohort studies in Japan by Kashino, et al.  for the Research Group for the Development and Evaluation of Cancer Prevention Strategies in Japan (2018)


SCIENCE: Drinking coffee may prevent recurrence of liver cancer in adults

SOURCE: ‘Protective effects of coffee consumption following liver transplantation for hepatocellular carcinoma’ by Wiltberger, Lange, et al, in Zeitschrift fur Gastroenterologie (2018)
 

Coffee & Longevity

SCIENCE: A study from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) looked at over 500,000 people, and found that coffee drinking was associated with reduced risk for death from various causes. 

SOURCE: ‘Coffee Drinking and Mortality in 10 European Countries: A Multinational Cohort Study’ by Gunter et al in Annals of Internal Medicine (2017) [Funded by IARC]


SCIENCE:  A study of over 500,000 people, spanning a decade, found that coffee drinking was inversely associated with mortality, including among those drinking 8 or more cups per day. 

SOURCE: ‘Association of Coffee Drinking with Mortality by Genetic Variation in Caffeine Metabolism’ by Loftfield, Cornelis, Caporaso, Yu, Sinha and Freedman, in JAMA Intern Med (2018)


SCIENCE: In a large study looking at over 400,000 people, coffee consumption was associated with lower likelyhood of death from disease.

SOURCE: ‘Association of Coffee Drinking with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality’ by Freedman, Park, Abnet, Hollenbeck and Sinha in The New England Journal of Medicine (2012)
 

Coffee & Diabetes

SCIENCE: Studies show that coffee drinkers are at a lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, which accounts for 90-95% of diabetes cases in the world. They also show that people who drink four or more cups of coffee daily have a 50% lower risk of Type 2 diabetes. 

SOURCE: ‘Coffee components inhibit amyloid formation of human islet amyloid polypeptide in vitro: possible link between coffee consumption and diabetes/ by Cheng et al, in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (2011)


SCIENCE: Cafestol, a compound found in coffee, could help to stave off type 2 diabetes. The compound has been found to increase insulin secretion, reduce fasting glucose levels and improve insulin sensitivity in mice. 

SOURCE: ‘Cafestol, a bioactive substance in coffee, has anti-diabetic properties in KKAy mice’ by Mellbye et al, in the Journal of Natural Products (2017)
 

Coffee & Stroke

SCIENCE: The results of a survey looking at over 83,000 women over many years showed that coffee consumption may modestly reduce the risk of stroke among women.

SOURCE: ‘Coffee consumption and risk of stroke in women’ by Lopez-Garcia et al, in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association (2009)


SCIENCE: A study from the International Agency for Research on Cancer looked at over 500,000 people, and found that coffee drinking was associated with reduced risk for death from various causes, including stroke. 

SOURCE: ‘Coffee Drinking and Mortality in 10 European Countries: A Multinational Cohort Study’ by Gunter et al in Annals of Internal Medicine (2017) [Funded by IARC]


SCIENCE: A large-scale study in Japan found that higher green tea and coffee consumption was inversely associated with risk of CVD and stroke in the general population. 

SOURCE: The impact of green tea and coffee consumption on the reduced risk of stroke incidence in Japanese population’ by Kobubo et al, in Stroke (2013)


The Caffeine Buzz 

Many of these potential benefits are associated with caffeine, a naturally occurring stimulant found in coffee beans. The amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee can vary, depending on factors ranging from the type of bean to how it's brewed.

Caffeinated coffee affects individuals differently, based on heredity, body weight, gender, metabolism (there are “fast caffeine metabolizers” versus slow ones), and coffee drinking habits.

While coffee has come to be closely associated with caffeine, today consumers can choose from a variety of caffeinated and decaffeinated options.

Learn more: The Challenges of Measuring Caffeine Levels

 

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