Saturday, March 10, 2007

Coffee: two sides to the debate

I've been thinking I should really cut back on my coffee consumption lately. I've entered two+ cup-a-day territory, and that just can't be good. Can it?

Apparently there are two schools of thought on this issue, as this recent BBC story points out. On the one hand,

caffeine eases withdrawal symptoms which build up overnight, but does not make people more alert than normal....all the drink does is counteract the mild caffeine withdrawal symptoms people are experiencing because they have gone without the stimulant overnight.
The possible adverse health effects of coffee aren't really a secret, but aren't well substantiated either:
not long ago, in the 1970s and '80s, coffee's name was mud. It was connected — tenuously or incorrectly, experts now say — to pancreatic cancer, heart attacks, birth defects, miscarriage, osteoporosis, and other ill effects.
On the other hand, maybe it's good for you...
a wealth of scientific evidence suggests that moderate coffee consumption of four to five cups per day is perfectly safe for the general population and does have a beneficial effect on alertness and performance even in regular coffee drinkers.
Pictured above: me, feverishly imbibing coffee during last summer's family road trip.



Armchair Anarchist said...

"...two+ cup-a-day territory, and that just can't be good. Can it?"

More than two cups a day is bad news? Uh-oh ... I have two half-litres of Hot Lava Java made with twice the coffee grounds per day, and usually an espresso or two. Maybe I should seek medical assistance - perhaps they'll give me a Modafinil prescription, which would solve the root problem that I use coffee to fix!

Vanessa said...

Yeah... I need to cut back on my coffee consumption too. Not because I'm in the dangerous two+ cup-a-day territory (come to think of it I am) but more because I drink coffee because it makes me feel better to think that it's helping me stay awake... when it's not.

Shawn C. said...

I read an article a while back about caffeine and it's actual effects on mental alertness. They didn't do the study with coffee, they used caffeine pills instead. In the study they found that doctors who took moderate doses of caffeine were in a heightened state of mental alertness compared to those who got by with nothing. So for what it's worth, a little caffeine everyday isn't going to hurt you, and if you are drinking 2 cups of coffee a day there are minimal health risks if any at all.

wngl said...

What you need is Folger's new "stomach-friendly" low-acid coffee, available at your local grocer now. For those folks who can't stomach too much "exotic" coffee, such as you find at a typical Seattle pit stop.

More to the point, J, you probably don't have much to worry about at your current rate of consumption, which is actually quite mild relative to standard imbibers in major metropolitan areas. Consider that you come to this habit somewhat later in life than many have, and you have had an admirably healthy, well-balanced intake for most of your years. I think you can handle a couple cups of coffee a day without suffering any serious debilitation.

Jonathan said...

You are all enablers, the lot of you!

hthth said...

From what I've read, most seem to agree that coffee isn't bad at all. In fact, I came across an article some months back that discussed coffee was the main source of antioxidants in the average American diet.

nat said...

enable, enable, enable

Here's some good reading,

Don't worry, I was up to 2-3 cups plus a shot or two of espresso a day 6 months ago. Now I'm at like one cup a week, so you can always go back. Of course I also drank a lot more martinis 6 months ago too.

Correlation? See the link.

Jonathan said...

That's very interesting, Nat..I hadn't heard that about coffee and alcohol. Well. I had a bit to drink last night, and I'm happy to be drinking coffee right now!

Tania said...

I have here some coffee facts and I think that coffee is not so bad! Just you should not overdose!