Consensus on caffeine: coffee is healthy, expert says

Take a deep whiff of that coffee and enjoy your first sip because it's good for you.

'I'm just sort of shocked it's not being promoted as a health food,' Aaron E. Carroll says

The consensus is in: coffee is good for you, according to a professor at the Indiana University School of Medicine. (Teghan Beaudette/CBC)

Take a deep whiff of that coffee and enjoy your first sip because it's good for you. 

Aaron E. Carroll, a professor at the Indiana University School of Medicine who also writes for the New York Times, took on the challenge of demystifying the stigma of drinking too much coffee.

Carroll's article in the New York Times looks at a review of scientific studies involving coffee, which come to the conclusion that the drink has been unjustly stigmatized. 
Studies indicate people who drink coffee experience less cognitive decline. (Monogram Coffee/Facebook)

"What I found – and there is a lot of research on coffee, a shockingly large number of studies – is that in almost every disease state or health problem you can think of, the evidence wasn't showing that coffee was harmful or even that it was benign but that it was actually was associated with significant benefits," Carroll told CBC's Information Radio

"People who drink coffee do better than people who don't."

Carroll said the studies he looked at show drinking coffee:

  • lowers rates of cardiovascular disease, stroke and heart failure.
  • has no effect on risk of breast or prostate cancer.
  • lowers risk of lung cancer and liver cancer.
  • lowers chances of being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
  • lowers risk of contracting liver disease.
  • lowers risk of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
  • slows down cognitive decline.

"I'm just sort of shocked it's not being promoted as a health food," Carroll said. 

The studies that he looked at considered coffee in a moderate amount, which studies consider to be six to eight cups per day, with each cup being roughly eight ounces.

"That's a pretty large amount of coffee," he said. 

"Even people who drank more didn't always have harms. They just often didn't have as much of a benefit."

Coffee-flavoured beverages another thing

The undeniably unhealthy aspect of coffee comes when the additives are considered, Carroll said. 

"And unfortunately many people when they drink coffee, they're drinking coffee-flavoured beverages that can have hundreds if not more calories a pop, with lots of fat and carbohydrates and milk — those things you certainly don't want to be drinking 48 ounces of a day," he said. 

Carroll said decaf drinkers have much less information and research to go on, but he found no evidence of negative health effects there either. 

He is clear he's is not advocating that children or pregnant women start gulping down coffee. He simply wishes to vindicate the beverage that he says has been so unfairly slighted for so long. 

"If you like it, there's really no reason that you shouldn't be drinking it," he said. 


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