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That’s the message in a wide-ranging round up of scientific studies by health writer and pediatrics professor Aaron E. Carroll for the New York Times. When it comes to the risks and benefits of our coffee sipping ways, the benefits side of the equation has won out, he writes. (And no, as a pediatrics professor at Indiana University’s med school, he is not recommending coffee for kids.)
While most of us worry that our java habit may be hurting us, "There’s almost no evidence for that at all," he writes.
In the most recent major analysis he cites, researchers looked at 36 studies involving more than 1,270,000 people. Those who drank about three to five cups of coffee each day were at the lowest risk for cardiovascular disease. And those who consumed five or more cups a day had no higher risk than those who consumed none, he writes.
Beyond that, there’s credible evidence that:
- Two to six cups of coffee a day is associated with a lower risk of stroke.
- Four cups a day were linked to the lowest rate of heart failure (but at 10 cups a day, the risk of heart failure climbs again).
- Coffee drinking is associated with a lower relative risk of liver cancer, and may help slow the progress of liver disease.
- Coffee doesn’t appear to negatively affect prostate cancer or breast cancer (but for smokers, coffee drinking may increase the risk of lung cancer).
- It’s also linked to lower risks of Type-2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s.
And, no, in case you’re wondering, your frothy syrup-laden coffee shop treat doesn't count. Professor Carroll points out that black coffee is the drink used in studies, not coffee-based mochas or other sugary, creamy concoctions.
Even the shrunken mini Frappuccinos that Starbucks announced recently are more dessert than coffee when it comes to health.
But for most of us, a simple cup (or three) of real coffee just became a better choice.
Learn more on the benefits of coffee and tea blends that are healthy, too.