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Published on October 6th, 2013 | by Daniel Haus, Ph.D. Candidate

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To Drink or Not to Drink: What’s the Verdict on Coffee?

According to the National Coffee Association’s 2013 National Coffee Drinking Trends (NCDT) survey [1], 63% of American adults report drinking coffee at least once per day at an average rate of consumption of just over three cups per day (one cup = 5-6 fl. oz.). Coffee has been lauded for its antioxidant effects, but over-consumption has been a cause for concern due to associated increases in heart rate and blood pressure. Exactly how much coffee is too much, though?

A recent study [2] published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings has found that men who consume more than 28 cups of coffee per week (4 cups daily) had a 21% higher mortality risk compared to non-drinkers, and that this risk was even greater in males younger than age 55. A similar trend, though not significant, was also found in female coffee drinkers. The results from the Mayo study are in contrast, however, to other recent studies which have found benefits to participant health from coffee consumption, including a large-scale NIH-sponsored study which found a 10% lowered mortality risk to those drinking 3 or more cups of coffee daily [3]. Additionally, a recent study from Duke University and the National University of Singapore has found that mice given caffeine at the equivalent to 4 cups of coffee per day for humans could reduce the risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease or NAFLD [4].

However, while there may be disagreement regarding direct links between coffee consumption and related health effects, the authors find common ground in concluding that combined with coffee consumption, other risk factors such as poor cardiovascular health, obesity, and genetics likely function to compound the potentially harmful effects, but that when combined with a healthy lifestyle, moderate coffee comsumption (up to three cups per day) is likely to have no adverse effects and in fact my provide certain health benefits.

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