A cup of coffee in the morning may provide more than just an energy boost. Health benefits, say some researchers, may range from helping prevent diabetes to lowering the risk of liver disease. With over 400 billion cups of coffee thought to be consumed every year, it is one of the world’s most popular drinks. But is it really healthful, or are there also risks?
What Do You Get From Drinking Coffee?
The potential health benefits associated with drinking coffee include protecting against type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, liver disease, liver cancer, and promoting a healthy heart.
Coffee and diabetes
It may help protect against type 2 diabetes. Researchers at UCLA identified that drinking coffee increases plasma levels of the protein sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG). SHBG controls the biological activity of the body’s sex hormones (testosterone and estrogen) which play a role in the development of type 2 diabetes. Increased consumption may reduce risk of type 2 diabetes according to the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers who gathered data from three studies.
Coffee and Parkinson’s disease
Researchers in the U.S. carried out a study that assessed the link between coffee consumption and Parkinson’s disease risk. The authors of the study concluded that “higher coffee and caffeine intake is associated with a significantly lower incidence of Parkinson’s disease”. In addition, caffeine in coffee may help control movement in people suffering from Parkinson’s, according to a study conducted at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI MUHC) that was published in the journal Neurology.
Coffee and liver cancer
Italian researchers found that coffee consumption lowers the risk of liver cancer by about 40%. In addition, some of the results suggest that if you drink three cups a day, the risks are reduced by more than 50%.The lead author of the study, Dr. Carlo La Vecchia, from Milan’s Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri, said “our research confirms past claims that it is good for your health and particularly the liver.”
Coffee and other liver disease
Regular consumption is linked to a reduced risk of primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), a rare autoimmune disease of the bile ducts in the liver. In addition, coffee consumption can lower the incidence of cirrhosis of the liver for alcohol drinkers by 22%, according to a study at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, California, USA. The authors of the study concluded that the results “support the hypothesis that there is an ingredient in coffee that protects against cirrhosis, especially alcoholic cirrhosis.
Coffee and heart health
Researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and Harvard School of Public Health, concluded that drinking in moderation protects against heart failure. People who drank four European cups on a daily basis had an 11% lower risk of heart failure, compared to those who did not. The authors stressed that their results “did show a possible benefit, but like with so many other things we consume, it really depends on how much you drink.”
Drinking too much can result in some very unpleasant adverse effects. According to a study by researchers at the University of Oklahoma, “caffeine can cause anxiety symptoms in normal individuals, especially in vulnerable patients, like those with pre-existing anxiety disorders.
In addition, “caffeine use is also associated with symptoms of depression due to either a self-medication theory, or a theory that caffeine itself causes changes in mood.” Women who plan on becoming pregnant should be cautious.