Dear Dr. Walt, my wife and I enjoy our morning coffee time. It gets us up and running. And we both have a few cuppas during the day. But we’re wondering whether this is healthy or not. Any advice? — Morning Joe and Josephine in New Jersey
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Java,
Multiple studies over many years suggest real health benefits to drinking coffee. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, caffeinated coffee has been linked with reduced risks for heart failure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and some types of cancer, such as colon and prostate cancer. Recent studies have also found that coffee drinkers are less likely to die from some of the leading causes of death in women: coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and kidney disease.
Several sizeable studies have shown that people who drink moderate amounts of coffee (four to five eight-ounce cups) are less likely to die during the study period (between 10 and 15 percent less than non-coffee drinkers). Coffee intake is associated with a lower risk of premature death. Another report explained that the “sweet spot appeared to be a coffee intake of 4–5 cups per day.” At this level, men and women had a 12 percent and 16 percent respectively reduced risk of early death. Drinking six or more cups per day provided no additional benefit. The report added, “However, even just one cup per day was associated with a five to six percent lowered risk of early death—showing that even a little bit is enough to have an effect.”
The theory is that since coffee is the number one source of antioxidants in the human diet, its antioxidants might counteract the fundamental inflammatory mechanism associated with human aging.
But just how much caffeine is safe? A 2019 study out of South Australia suggested an upper limit of five cups of coffee per day. Above that, coffee starts to negatively affect cardiovascular health. In fact, once you reach six cups of coffee per day, the risk of heart disease increases by 22 percent.
Most coffee research defines a “cup of coffee” as eight ounces with an average of about 100 mg of caffeine per cup (although it can vary from 50 to 400 mg). According to the FDA, 400 mg per day or about four or five cups of coffee is the amount of caffeine “not generally associated with dangerous, negative effects” for healthy adults. Anything over that amount could potentially cause serious problems in adults and certainly children and adolescents.
© Copyright WLL, INC. 2022. This blog provides healthcare tips and advice that you can trust about a wide variety of general health information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from your regular physician. If you are concerned about your health, take what you learn from this blog and meet with your personal doctor to discuss your concerns.