Can Coffee Curb Illness?

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Coffee consumption was associated with fewer illnesses according to recent review

September 18, 2013 / Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

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(dailyRx News) People all around the world enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning to help kick start the day. But what other benefits might coffee have? A recent study provided insight into this question by examining the relationship between coffee consumption and various illnesses.

After analyzing multiple studies, the researchers found that participants who drank large amounts of coffee had a lower risk for various life-threatening illnesses in comparison to those who drank less than one cup of coffee a day.

The researchers also found no evidence that moderate coffee intake was related to heart failure, heart disease or irregular heart beats. No association between coffee and cancer was found either.

"Learn about the health benefits of coffee."

Stefano Malerba, Institute of Hygiene, Universita Cattolica Del Sacro Cuore, Rome, Italy, and colleagues aimed to examine the relationship between coffee consumption and various causes of death, including cancer, heart disease and stroke.

The researchers reviewed 28 different studies that documented the amount of coffee consumed per day by participants. Moderate coffee consumption was regarded as three cups or less per day and heavy coffee consumption was regarded as more than three cups per day.

After combining 23 studies that were adjusted for participants who smoked, the researchers found that participants who were heavy coffee drinkers had about a 12 percent lower risk for cancer, heart disease and stroke than those who consumed less than one cup of a coffee per day.

The researchers also reviewed studies on heart disease in relation to coffee consumption. These studies focused on cardiovascular disease and coronary/ischemic heart disease.

Participants who drank large amounts of coffee were about 11 percent less likely to develop these heart diseases than participants who drank small amounts.

There was about a 5 percent decrease in risk for coronary/ischemic heart disease and stroke among high coffee drinkers versus low coffee drinkers in both men and women.

The analysis was not without its limitations. The amount of caffeine in the coffee varied from study to study. Therefore, this review did not examine the association between caffeine and mortality. Furthermore, the amount of coffee consumed by participants was based on self-reports.

The relationship between coffee consumption and mortality is not an open and shut case. Nevertheless, the authors of this review noted why these studies are so important.

“Coffee is the second most common beverage in the world after tea. Thus, any health benefits of coffee is an important issue of public health,” the authors wrote. 

This study was published online August 11 in the European Journal of Epidemiology, and was funded by the Italian Association for Cancer Research (AIRC) and supported by a fellowship from the Italian Foundation for Cancer Research (FIRC). The authors declared no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
September 18, 2013
Last Updated:
September 18, 2013