a cup of coffee, drinking coffee, chances of heart failure, decaf coffee

There has been considerable controversy over the years about how drinking coffee affects health. Is your morning cup of java bad for your health? Not really, according to research from the UK.

What Are the Health Effects of Drinking Coffee?

The scientists did a systematic review of data from 26 observational studies that included more than 2 million participants. Those who normally drank two cups of coffee a day were about 35 percent less likely to develop liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma).

Regular or Decaf?

It did not seem to matter whether the coffee was decaf or high test, suggesting that the apparent protective effect is coming not from the caffeine but from some other component of coffee. Coffee is rich in antioxidant compounds, and some of them have anticancer activity.

This study included only observational studies, not clinical trials. Consequently, the researchers don’t claim that drinking coffee protects people from liver cancer. Nonetheless, the association suggests that your morning cup (or two) won’t do your liver damage.

Kennedy et al, BMJ Open, May, 2017 

Coffee and Diabetes Risk:

This is not the first study that indicates drinking coffee may have health benefits. Years ago, we received this question:

Q. My father and uncle both have diabetes. I would like to reduce my risk of developing this disease and I’ve heard that drinking coffee can help. Is there any evidence behind this claim?

Here is our answer:

A. There are several epidemiological studies that have demonstrated an association between regular coffee consumption and a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes (Smith et al, Diabetes Care, Nov. 2006; van Dam et al, Diabetes Care, Feb. 2006).

Despite the epidemiology, do not count on coffee alone to protect you. In most cases, regular exercise and weight control are far more likely to help you avoid type 2 diabetes.

Downsides of Drinking Coffee:

Not all the recent research indicates drinking coffee has only health benefits. A review of 94 studies found that even people with high blood pressure or heart rhythm abnormalities can safely consume moderate amounts of coffee (Chrysant, Expert Review of Cardiovascular Therapy, March 2017).

However, Israeli investigators report that people who drink coffee are more susceptible to rheumatoid arthritis and type 1 diabetes (Sharif et al, Autoimmunity Reviews, online May 4, 2017). They found that coffee interferes with the effectiveness of methotrexate for treating rheumatoid arthritis and inhibits absorption of levothyroxine for Hashimoto’s disease.

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  1. alan
    Dallas, TX

    I think I’ll just go on having my cup or two in the morning . . . oh, wait! Make that three, maybe four!

  2. Merita H

    In the Israeli study, did it state how much coffee was consumed? Did it state timing, such as drinking coffee with the medicine or at separate times. Without knowing those answers, it is difficult to really determine how to alter one’s own consumption.

  3. Deanna


    I would like to know what deficiencies can cause tendonitis. Thanks you.

  4. Joyce

    I would like to know if coffee contributes to pancreatic cancer.

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