Is it Safe to Drink Coffee? 

coffee - cook for your life

While coffee ranks as one of the most widely consumed beverages globally, there has been much controversy over its health effects.  Years ago, coffee was thought to increase one’s risk of cancer.   Thanks to more recent research, we now know that the compounds in coffee can block and reduce cancer cell growth. In fact, drinking coffee does not increase cancer risk and probably reduces risk for certain cancers. 

Coffee is a source of minerals and vitamins like any other plant. An example of this are the B vitamins like niacin, thiamin and riboflavin, important for basic energy processes in our body. Some may find it surprising that their cup o’ joe also has plenty of antioxidants and phytonutrients, or plant chemicals, some of which may inactivate carcinogens (cancer-causing compounds) in the body.  In fact, coffee contains over 1,000 compounds that could potentially aid one’s health.  That is a major reason why it has been so hard for researchers to identify which diseases coffee affects and why. 

The American Institute of Cancer Research has reviewed the available research and found strong evidence that drinking coffee may help lower the risk of liver and endometrial cancers.  Limited evidence suggests that drinking coffee may help decrease the risk of mouth, pharynx, larynx and skin cancers, but more research is needed. 

Caffeine has also been found to limit exposure to carcinogens by speeding their path through the digestive system. To those worried about consuming too much caffeine, a study by the American Heart Association showed no direct association between moderate caffeine consumption (1-2 cups a day) and risk of heart disease.  As long as you do not drink caffeine in excess (more than 4 cups of coffee per day), there should be no increase in your risk of major disease. 

Each person may have a different response to caffeine, and if caffeine gives you the jitters or keeps you awake at night, you may want to avoid coffee and other caffeinated drinks or limit drinking to mornings only.  

If you are undergoing cancer treatment, be sure to confirm with your doctor how much coffee and caffeine you should be drinking.  Depending on your treatment, he or she may advise you to avoid coffee and/or caffeine completely or recommend a maximum number of cups per day.  Also be aware that those dealing with surgeries to the intestinal tract may need to avoid all caffeine including coffee and tea. 

In conclusion, there is still a lot of research that needs to be done on coffee, but many studies look promising. Remember, coffee comes in many forms, and adding sugar, cream and other high-calorie ingredients can turn this beverage into a dessert, which can outweigh coffee’s potential health benefits. Coffee is a great beverage option and beneficial in moderation, not to mention quite tasty. 

Additional resources and references: 

American Institute for Cancer Research. Coffee: Lowers the Risk of Liver and Endometrial Cancers. Updated April 4, 2021. 

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