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Is coffee as harmful as most people make it out to be?

For many years, doctors have warned people to avoid coffee because it might increase the risk of heart disease and stunt growth. They were concerned that people could become addicted to the energy that high amounts of caffeine provided, leading them to crave more and more coffee as they became tolerant to higher amounts of caffeine. Gurus also worried that coffee had damaging effects on the digestive tract, which could lead to stomach ulcers, heartburn, etc.

All these concerns emanated from studies done years ago that compared coffee drinkers to non-drinkers on a number of health measures, including heart issues and mortality. Coffee drinkers, it seemed, were more vulnerable.

As studies continue, it turns out coffee wasn’t the blaming factor. The initial studies didn’t always account for the several other factors that could account for poor health, such as smoking, drinking and a lack of physical activity. If individuals who drank a lot of coffee have other unhealthy habits, then it’s not clear that coffee is responsible for their heart problems or higher mortality.

This revelation had led to a rehabilitated reputation for the drink. Recent research unfolds that once the proper adjustments are made for confounding factors, coffee drinkers don’t seem to have a higher risk for heart issues or cancer than people who don’t drink coffee. Later studies also found no significant link between the caffeine in coffee and heart-related problems such as high cholesterol, irregular heartbeats, stroke or heart attack.

Studies show that people who regularly drink coffee may have an 11% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than non-drinkers, thanks to ingredients in coffee that can affect levels of hormones involved in metabolism.

Research has also found that people who drank several cups of coffee a day, anywhere from 2 to 4 cups, actually had a lower risk of stroke. Heart experts say benefits may come from coffee’s effect on the blood vessels; by keeping vessels flexible and healthy, it may reduce the risk of atherosclerosis, which can cause heart attacks.

Research shows that coffee may have net positive effects on the body after all.

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