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How Does Coffee Affect Our Health?

Photo Credit: 12th and Broad

Photo Credit: 12th and Broad

Kylie Calderon, Journalist

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The effects of coffee consumption on health have long been a subject of conflict and uncertainty. Since the 1980s, some have denounced coffee as detrimental to health, while others have hailed coffee for its supposed health benefits. As coffee becomes increasingly popular worldwide, many are asking, how exactly does coffee affect the human body?

 

In the scientific report for the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans released on January 7 of this year, the federal government deems moderate coffee consumption harmless to human health. According to this report, moderate coffee consumption, defined as three to five cups per day, “can be incorporated into a healthy dietary pattern, along with other healthful behaviors.”

 

The federal report cites strong scientific evidence that, “consumption of coffee within the moderate range is not associated with increased long-term health risks among healthy individuals.”

 

The scientific report for the 2015-2016 Dietary Guidelines for Americans even mentions evidence that coffee is beneficial to health. The report alludes to “consistent evidence” that coffee consumption helps reduce the risk of type two diabetes and cardiovascular disease and “moderate evidence” that it protects against Parkinson’s disease.

 

The health benefits of coffee may extend beyond those included in the report, according to the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee (ISIC) and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

 

After compounding conclusions from many scientific studies, the ISIC announced that coffee consumption is associated with a reduced risk of stroke in women and a reduced risk of cerebral microbleeds in men. The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health recognizes that drinking coffee regularly could prevent gallstones and slow the progression of liver cancer and cirrhosis.

 

However, it seems coffee consumption is not entirely beneficial to human health. There is some scientific evidence of health problems associated with drinking coffee.

 

According to Dr. Donald Hensrud of Mayo Clinic, high consumption of coffee has health risks. “High consumption of unfiltered coffee (boiled or espresso) has been associated with mild elevations of cholesterol levels.”

 

Dr. Hensrud also mentions the dangers of high coffee consumption for people with a common genetic mutation that slows the breakdown of caffeine in the body. Some studies concluded that drinking two or more cups of coffee daily can actually increase the risk of cardiovascular disease in these people.

 

Coffee may also be detrimental to health due to its conventional additives: sugar, syrup and high-fat dairy and dairy substitutes. The 2015-2016 Dietary Guidelines recommend coffee drinkers limit these coffee supplements because of their high caloric value, which could lead to health problems if consumed in excess.

 

There is also a widespread, long-held belief that consuming caffeine causes heart palpitations and other irregular heartbeat patterns. These issues may in turn lead to heart failure or other dangerous heart conditions.

 

However, according to conclusions from a recent study led by Dr. Gregory Marcus, a cardiologist at the University of California San Francisco, daily moderate consumption of caffeine is not associated with these issues.

 

“In general, consuming caffeinated products every day is not associated with having increased ectopy or arrhythmia,” Marcus said. Nonetheless, rhythmic heart disorders could still result from higher everyday caffeine consumption.

 

Until the scientific community reaches a general consensus regarding the effects of coffee consumption on human health, it will be up to the individual to decide whether the apparent benefits of drinking coffee outweigh the apparent risks.

 

For Catalina Foothills High School senior Chloe Harwood, the benefits of drinking coffee outweigh the possible risks. When informed on these possible health benefits and detriments of drinking coffee, Harwood stated, “Even though there might be some negative effects of drinking coffee, for the most part, coffee drinking sounds good for health. Not to mention I need coffee to stay awake.”

 

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How Does Coffee Affect Our Health?