Coffee Increases Health Risks
studies have been published citing that drinking coffee
which is unfiltered as in the French Press method are
associated with an increase in LDL (bad) cholesterol and
or homocysteine levels.
study, by Dr. Marina Grubben et al, published in the
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition was conducted in
the Netherlands. It involved studying 64 healthy adults
drinking six large cups of unfiltered coffee or another
beverage during a two week period. The results showed that
there was an increase in homocysteine levels of 10% in
individuals who consumed the unfiltered coffee. They
linked this to an increased risk for heart disease by 10%.
coffee study, participants drank unfiltered coffee for two weeks
and were compared to those who drank filtered coffee.
There was an increase in serum LDL cholesterol of 2mg/dl
for those drinking unfiltered coffee. After two weeks,
they switched to filtered coffee and the serum cholesterol
returned to baseline.
studies, while interesting, don't tell us anything about
long term effects. A two week coffee study does not give us an
answer to the long term risk of drinking unfiltered
coffee. In the homocysteine related study, the control
group didn't even drink coffee. Yet the way this has been
reported is that it is healthier to drink filtered coffee.
A more recent study has shown that homocysteine levels did
not drop when drinking filtered coffee. There has been
trouble isolating the cause. Is it the caffeine? Who
knows? More research is needed.
coffees in the world come from Italy.
unless someone is growing coffee as an indoor plant, no
coffee is grown in Italy at all. Italy's coffee fame rests
on its coffee companies abilities as roasters and blenders
for espresso. There is no doubt that the average Italian
regards coffee as one of life's essentials, but at the
same time there are few Italian coffee connoisseurs. As
long as the coffee is of a certain standard it will be
acceptable (and cheap!) The end result is that most of the
green coffee going in to Italy is "good average" at best
rather than specialty grade, and most of the roasted
coffee exported is designed to give a consistent "good
it says on the packets, roasted AND ground coffee from
Italy is normally designed to be used in Moka Pots rather
than espresso machines.
Leads To Heart Disease
It has long
been thought that coffee, as a stimulant, would lead to
various forms of heart disease. The recent literature.
however, suggests that coffee is safe in moderate doses.
Recently, one researcher, Warren G. Thompson, M.D., noted
in a 1994 literature review on this subject: "The largest
and better studies suggest that coffee is not a major risk
factor for coronary disease."
Additionally, a major study conducted by Willet, et al.,
examined data collected from more than 85,000 women over a
10-year period. Upon adjusting the data for known risk
factors such as smoking, they found no increased risk of
CVD for women who drank six or more cups of coffee per
A 1990 study
by Diedrich, et al., looked at 45,000 men. It found no
link between coffee, caffeine and CVD in men who drank
four or more cups of coffee per day.
when people see me drinking a cup of coffee -- they give
the warning "You shouldn't drink coffee, it will give you
ulcers." The thinking, until recently, was that excess
stomach acid caused ulcers and that coffee would
contribute to the stomach acid. Recent studies however
show that most ulcers are caused by a particular bacteria,
namely Helicobacter pylori. Those ulcers can be
cured easily with antibiotics. An important distinction to
make is that while coffee or spicy foods for that matter
don't cause the ulcers, they may serve to aggravate
existing ulcers. (Source
Effects are Addictive
say they are "addicted" to caffeine in much the same way
they say they are "addicted" to shopping, working or
television. The term "addiction" actually refers to a
strong dependence on a drug characterized by severe
withdrawal symptoms, tolerance to a given dose and the
loss of control or the need to consume more and more of
the substance at any cost. Addicts tend to exhibit
anti-social behavior or even commit crimes to perpetuate
the abuse. Consumers of caffeine-containing beverages do
not fall into this category. The Diagnostic and
Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (1994), a document
that characterizes various addictions, does not list
caffeine as a substance that causes addiction. According
to the World Health Organization, "There is no evidence
whatsoever that caffeine use has even remotely comparable
physical and social consequences which are associated with
serious drugs of abuse."
Women Should Avoid Caffeine
Just as with
nearly everything else they do, pregnant women can take
caffeine in moderation. Many women find they experience
taste changes during pregnancy and cannot drink tea or
coffee. For those who continue to enjoy their tea and
coffee, most physicians and researchers agree that
moderate amounts of coffee daily will have no adverse
effects on the outcome of the pregnancy or the infant's
a Risk Factor for Osteoporosis
established risk factors for osteoporosis are insufficient
dietary calcium and vitamin D, high protein diets,
smoking, the onset of menopause, low estrogen levels, low
body weight and a lack of physical activity. Several
well-controlled studies have concluded that consuming
moderate amounts of caffeine does not increase the risk of
developing osteoporosis. A 1994 National Institute of
Health Consensus Statement on optimal bone health does not
list caffeine amongst the risk factors which modify
calcium balance and influence bone mass. A study by Penn
State Medical School found that lifetime consumption of
caffeine (up to 800 mg daily or the equivalent of 6-7 cups
of coffee a day) had no effect on bone density in 188
Nevertheless, caffeine does cause a small amount of
calcium to be lost in the urine – about the amount in
one to two tablespoons of milk per cup of tea or coffee.
For this reason, nutritionists recommend that women take
their coffee with added milk, drink one extra glass of
milk daily or take a calcium supplement if they are heavy
coffee drinkers (over 5 cups of coffee daily).
increases the risk of heart disease
previous controversy on the subject, scientists now agree
that regular caffeine use has little or no effect on blood
pressure, cholesterol levels or risk of heart disease.
that while first-time caffeine use can cause a slight
increase in blood pressure (similar to that experienced
when walking up stairs), the changes are minimal and
disappear with regular use.
It has also
been found that only boiled, unfiltered coffee, such as
that taken in some Scandinavian countries, elevates
cholesterol. It seems the oils in the coffee that are not
filtered out are responsible for this effect, not the
coffee or caffeine. Consumption of caffeine-containing
beverages does not typically affect cholesterol levels.
scientific evidence demonstrates that caffeine is not a
risk factor for cancer. A number of human epidemiological
studies have examined the risk of developing cancer at
different locations in the body. Two studies of large
numbers of people in Norway and Hawaii found no
relationship between regular coffee consumption and cancer
risk. Two projects conducted on caffeine - one in Japan
and the other in Germany - demonstrated no link between
caffeine consumption and the incidence of tumors in test
animals. This confirms the position of the American Cancer
Society, that states, "Available information does not
suggest a recommendation against the moderate use of
coffee. There is no indication that caffeine, a natural
component of both coffee and tea, is a risk factor in
human cancer." (Source
adversely affects the health of children
generally consume much less caffeine than adults do, since
soft drinks and tea are their primary sources of caffeine.
Children generally have the same ability to process
caffeine as adults. Studies have shown that foods and
drinks containing caffeine, when taken in moderate
amounts, have no detectable effects on activity levels or
attention spans in children.
has no health benefits
research has found some surprising health benefits
associated with caffeine consumption. Many
caffeine-containing beverages, most notably tea and more
recently coffee, have been found to contain antioxidants.
Antioxidants may have health benefits in terms of heart
health and cancer prevention.
well recognized as increasing both alertness levels and
attention spans. A cup of coffee or tea is often
recommended to counter sleepiness, especially for those
driving long distances and many people resort to an
afternoon "cuppa" to get back on top of their workload.
reports suggest that caffeine may be useful in treating
allergic reactions due to its ability to reduce the
concentration of histamines, the typical body response to
an allergy-causing substance. More research is needed in
this area before conclusions can be drawn. Caffeine has
long been known to help many people suffering from asthma. There is
also evidence to suggest that caffeine may reduce the risk
of kidney stones.