Is coffee healthy or harmful?
Coffee is an often maligned beverage for its potential health risks but a major scientific review suggests the weight of evidence is firmly in the direction of health benefit.
Coffee is one of the world’s most popular beverages. Coffee is also a good example of how conflicting nutrition research provides mixed messages to the public. One day coffee is reported as being good for us, and the next day it is harmful.
Adding some much needed clarity to the coffee health story, a major comprehensive systematic review looked at 1277 individual studies where coffee consumption was investigated with regards to any positive or negative health effects. Cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, liver disease, neurological disorders and age at mortality were all considered.
The bottom line finding was that the health benefits of moderate coffee consumption clearly outweighed the risk in most of the health outcomes assessed.
A definition of moderate is considered 3-4 cups of coffee a day. Most of the research considered was based on observational studies, which
cannot always remove the effect of other lifestyle habits that could be linked to health and coffee consumption.
For regular coffee drinkers, there is likely little to be concerned about when seeing reports of a single research study indicating coffee is not so good for health; the weight of evidence points to coffee being an acceptable beverage.
Last Reviewed: 13/10/2019
Norman Swan Medical Communications
Pourshahidi LK et al. A comprehensive overview of the risks and benefits of coffee consumption. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety 2016;15:671-684.