I've got good news for all you coffee drinkers out there: unless you fall into one of two categories, you can carry on with your multiple-cups-a-day habit.
A large review study has recently concluded that drinking three to four cups of coffee a day isn't going to hurt you and is actually likely to help you. Here are some of the perks they identified for coffee drinkers and who still needs to keep their consumption limited.
For this study, published in the journal The British Medical Journal, researchers from the University of Southampton and the University of Edinburgh evaluated over 200 studies examining the role of coffee in overall health. While most of these studies described correlations, not causation, the researchers did find overwhelming evidence of coffee's association with a number of health benefits, including a lower overall risk of death, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, liver disease, and dementia. The largest drop in relative risk of death occurred for people who drank three cups a day, compared to those who drank none. Drinking more than that didn't seem to be harmful, but the increase in benefit was minimal as well.
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While there were fewer studies of decaffeinated coffee, it did seem to offer similar benefits on a number of measures. So you don't have to stay constantly wired to reap the rewards of coffee. That's good news for one group of people who should limit their coffee intake: pregnant women, who need to keep their caffeine consumption under 200 mg per day, or the equivalent of about 12 ounces of black coffee. Pregnant women should also keep in mind that even decaf coffee does contain some caffeine (typically about a tenth of the amount in a regular cup), so they need to factor that into their allowance.
The researchers also recommended that people who have an increased risk of fracture avoid coffee as well. That would include anyone who has osteoporosis.
And, of course, they pointed out that while multiple cups of coffee are generally ok, multiple cups of sugar- and fat-laden concoctions are not. If your coffee is more sugar than anything else, you need to consider that a treat and consume it sparingly. But if you enjoy black coffee or coffee with a splash of milk, feel free to continue enjoying up to four cups a day, as long as it isn't affecting your sleep (or switch to decaf).
The researchers note that there's not enough evidence yet to advocate for increasing coffee consumption in non-drinkers. So if you prefer a different beverage (such as green tea), feel free to keep drinking what you enjoy. But if you're a coffee drinker, science seems to be on your side. Just make sure you're choosing organic coffee whenever possible. Coffee is often heavily sprayed with pesticides, and there's plenty more research telling us those will do us harm.
Better Health and Living for Women,
Robin Poole, Oliver J Kennedy, Paul Roderick, Jonathan A Fallowfield, Peter C Hayes, Julie Parkes. Coffee consumption and health: umbrella review of meta-analyses of multiple health outcomes. BMJ, 2017; j5024 DOI: 10.1136/bmj.j5024