Coffee is a popular beverage enjoyed by many people around the world. It has caffeine content which helps boost one’s energy and thus a favorite choice for those who want some extra fuel to keep their body going for the day. However, like any other popular indulgence, coffee drinking is surrounded by a lot of misconceptions. This makes it useful to dispel some of these myths with facts so one can enjoy their cup of Joe freely.
Coffee has serious health implications, myth or fact? You would be surprised to learn about the numerous scientific researches that have gone into great depths to demystify this misconception. The good news is that coffee lovers can relax, since this drink is not only harmless to the human body but also has various health benefits. Here are some of the myths and truths about coffee and its health implications.
1. Coffee and skin cancer
The idea that coffee can cause cancer is one myth people have carried around for long. The paradox is it actually helps reduce the risk of some deadly cancers such as melanoma. This is according to a 2015 study by Erikka Loftfield et al of National Cancer Institute which assessed the risk of cutaneous melanoma, a very aggressive skin cancer, on coffee drinkers.
Through the study, it was also notable that caffeine, the main constituent in coffee, was highly associated with protection against skin cancer. The research results are in support of a previous study on animals, appearing in the American Journal of Cancer, which indicated that regular coffee consumption could lower the risk of skin’s basal cell carcinoma (BCC).
2. Coffee and pregnancy
Some women may want to keep off coffee when they are pregnant or trying to conceive due to the misconception that it could risk the health of the unborn child, cause miscarriage or prevent pregnancy. It is alright to enjoy drinking coffee before and during pregnancy in moderate amounts. A cup or two a day will not harm you or your unborn child.
However, have in mind that the active ingredient in this beverage is caffeine. Several studies show that caffeine gets to the fetus and a lot of it can inhibit its growth. An example of such research is one observational study by Justin C Konje, Department of Cancer Studies and Molecular Medicine, University of Leicester et al published in October 2008. The researchers, who observed signs of fetal growth restriction on women who enjoyed the beverage during pregnancy, concluded that it would be sensible to limit the amount of coffee intake while pregnant. Note that there is no mention of total refrain from the beverage here.
3. Coffee and multiple sclerosis
There is also a recent study finding associating high consumption of coffee with low risk of multiple sclerosis. The good news relating a high rate of coffee consumption with low risk of multiple sclerosis were broken to the public through a February 26, 2015 press release by the American Academy of Neurology. From the study, researchers concluded that those who consume 4 to 6 cups of coffee daily, for long, have lower chances of multiple sclerosis. It goes further to explain that caffeine contains neuroprotective characteristics which could be responsible for suppression of creation of cytokines associated with inflammation in the brain.
4. Coffee and cardiovascular disease
Contrary to the popular believe that coffee and other caffeine drinks predispose drinkers to heart disease, it actually lowers the risk. A 2014 South Korean study involving over 25,000 young and middle-aged coffee drinkers found that taking coffee daily in moderate amounts decreases the possibility of coronary artery calcium commonly referred to as CAC. CAC is one of the main early predictors of predisposition to cardiovascular disease. Moderate coffee drinking means taking approximately 3 to 5 cups a day.
5. Coffee and diabetes II
In a 2012 study, a group of researchers from the American Society for Nutrition compared the prevalence of type II diabetes between people who use caffeine and those using decaffeinated beverages. This was in response to a belief that drinking caffeine beverages like tea and coffee could cut down the possibility of type II diabetes, amidst reports based on short-term metabolic studies that caffeine weakens postprandial glycemic control. From the study, it was clear that there was a strong association between coffee consumption and low risk of type II diabetes.
Now that you have proof of the health benefits of coffee, it is important to note a key feature of all these studies. Most findings are based on moderate coffee amounts. A quick definition of “moderate” in this context would mean 3-5 cups a day. In addition, whether served black or with some milk and cream, this cup of coffee is expected to have a capacity of 5-8 ounces, which gives you approximately 100mg of caffeine. Anything more than that may not pass for moderate.