A new study suggests that drinking coffee significantly reduces our skin-cancer risk. There’s a raft of other research that’s piling up evidence that regular cups of joe—six-ounce servings packed with antioxidants, polyphenols, and other health-boosting chemicals—can prevent everything from diabetes to depression to cirrhosis of the liver to stroke. (Intracranial aneurysms, not so much.) Scared of superbugs? Pour yourself another cup.
1. Drinking more than three cups of coffee a day reduces the risk of basal-cell carcinoma by 20 percent in women and 9 percent in men.
Drinking even more
coffee even further
reduces our risk of getting this common form of skin cancer, according to a report presented last week at an American Association for Cancer Research prevention conference. “The antioxidants in coffee have been shown to reduce inflammation and inhibit cellular tumor growth,” says dietician and nutrition therapistKaren Scheuner
. “Foods high in antioxidants help protect the cells against oxidative damage caused by free radicals that can elicit cells to grow in a way that promotes cancer.”
“Coffee Consumption Associated with Decreased Risk for Basal-Cell Carcinoma.” Study discussed at the AARC International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research, Oct. 22-25, 2011.
A 10-year study conducted on 34,670 participants linked coffee consumption with “a statistically significant lower risk of total stroke, cerebral infarction, and subarachnoid hemorrhage,” its authors write, “but not intracerebral hemorrhage.” Well, that’s three out of four.
3. Women who drink four cups of coffee per day are 20 percent less likely to be clinically depressed than women who drink only one cup of coffee per week.
Depression risk decreases with increasing caffeinated coffee consumption, according to the scholars whose study conducted on 50,739 women yielded this stat. Caffeine is the world’s most widely used central-nervous-system stimulant, with 80 percent of it being consumed via coffee. Scheuner points out that, under the influence of caffeine, “most people report feeling increased alertness, increased energy, and generally being in good moods. It’s difficult to say what else coffee drinkers do in their lives to keep serotonin and other neurotransmitters involved in regulating moods at normal levels.”
“I remain a bit cautious about drinking six or more cups of coffee to prevent diabetes,” says Mark Pendergrast, the author of Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It Transformed Our World
. “An association does not necessarily translate to a cause or cure, and I would be vibrating if I drank that much coffee, unless I built up a tolerance, in which case I would be a real addict.” The study that yielded this stat also found an impressive 28 percent lower diabetes risk in people who drink four cups of coffee per day.
5. Coffee drinkers are about twice as likely as non-coffee drinkers not to develop the potentially deadly methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection in their nostrils.
The recent study that yielded this stat found that drinking hot coffee or hot tea (but not cold versions of either) increases resistance to MRSA, a scary superbug that runs rampant in hospitals and kills about 11,000 people in the U.S. per year. “Our findings raise the possibility of a promising new method to decrease MRSA nasal carriage that is safe, inexpensive, and easily accessible,” write the study’s authors. MRSA starts with skin boils, then spreads to infect organs and bones.
Eric Matheson, et al. “Tea and Coffee Consumption and MRSA Nasal Carriage.” Annals of Family Medicine, 9 (4), 299-304.
“There is an ingredient in coffee that protects against cirrhosis, especially alcoholic cirrhosis,” write the authors of the seven-year study that yielded this stat. Previously, the medical community had known little about how to prevent or modulate this devastating liver disease. Sorry, tannin fans: “In contrast to results for coffee, no effect was observed for drinking tea,” the authors avow.
7. Women who drink one to five cups of coffee a day—including decaf—reduce their risk of death from all causes by 15 to 19 percent compared to women who drink no coffee at all.
While most coffee-related health benefits derive only from the caffeinated kind, this study found that decaf helps, too. The researchers who examined the relationships between women’s coffee consumption and mortality rates from cancer, cardiovascular disease, and other causes theorize that antioxidants are the magic bullet.
While most coffee-related health benefits derive only from the caffeinated kind, one study found that decaf helps, too.
8. Men who drink at least six cups of coffee per day are 60 percent less likely to develop lethal prostate cancer than men who drink no coffee.
And men who drink at least six cups of coffee per day have nearly a 20 percent lower risk of developing any kind of prostate cancer, according to the study that yielded this stat. Even drinking one to three cups of coffee per day reduces the lethal-prostate-cancer risk by a whopping 30 percent. According to the study, decaf drinkers experience the same benefits. “I am somewhat skeptical about these findings,” Pendergrast warns. “All too often, we hear that what caused cancer 10 years ago is now supposed to cure it, or vice versa. Yet many of the recent coffee studies are epidemiologically sound, following huge numbers of people for many years and carefully weeding out possible confounding factors.”
Kathryn Wilson, et al. “Coffee Consumption and Prostate Cancer Risk and Progression in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study.” Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 103 (11), 876-884.
9. Coffee-drinking increases the risk of intracranial aneurysm by 10.6 percent.
OK, so this is bad news for aficionados of the bean. But it’s bad news for pretty much everyone, because the same study that yielded this figure also found that vigorous exercise increases the intracranial-aneurysm risk by 8 percent, nose-blowing increases it by 5 percent, and sexual intercourse increases it by 4 percent. How badly do you really want to avoid a brain-bleed?
M.H.M. Vlak, et al. “Trigger Factors and Their Attributable Risk for Rupture of Intracranial Aneurysms.” Coffee & Health, May 2011.
10. Men who drink two to three cups of coffee per day are 60 percent less likely to develop gallstones than are men who drink no coffee.
For those who drink four or more cups of coffee per day, the risk-reduction factor is 55 percent. According to the scientists whose research revealed these figures, “Caffeine inhibits biliary cholesterol crystallization, decreases gall-bladder fluid absorption, and increases hepatic bile flow. Cafestol, a lipid component contained in coffee beans, may affect bile cholesterol concentration.” Also, “filtered coffee contains cafestol and kahweol, which raise serum cholesterol levels, possibly by decreasing hepatic low-density lipoprotein receptor activity.” Well, that explains everything.
Michael Leitzmann, et al. “A Prospective Study of Coffee Consumption and the Risk of Symptomatic Gallstone Disease in Men.” (PDF)
Journal of the American Medical Association, 281 (22), 2106-2112
11. Men who drink at least six cups of coffee per day are 63 percent less likely to have Parkinson’s disease than are men who drink no coffee.
While that’s great news for your average joe-quaffing Joe, the study that yielded this stat found mixed results for females. Coffee-drinking significantly reduces the Parkinson’s risk only among women who don’t use postmenopausal hormone-replacement therapy. Women on HRT get no such benefits.
Alberto Ascherio, et al. “Coffee Consumption, Gender, and Parkinson’s Disease Mortality in the Cancer Prevention Study II Cohort: The Modifying Effects of Estrogen.” American Journal of Epidemiology, 160 (10), 977-984.