Coffee: The Steamy Details on the World’s Favorite Drink
The Takeaway First
Research shows that drinking coffee in moderation (whatever that means) can have some long term health benefits in addition to increased alertness in the short term.
Some Research on Coffee
Caffeine is the most widely used psychoactive drug in the world. We are all familiar with its psychological effects on alertness and tiredness, but what are its effects on the rest of the body? As I was devouring some articles, I found some interesting findings about coffee consumption and male health. According to several articles, a few cups of coffee a day can
- slightly decrease your risk of developing prostate cancer, including high-grade or fatal prostate cancer (Cao, Liu, Yin, Liu & Lu, 2014; Lu et al., 2014)
- decrease your cardiovascular risk, including coronary artery disease and stroke (Ding, Bhupathiraju, Satija, van Dam & Hu, 2014; DiNicolantonio & O’Keefe, 2014)
- slightly decrease your risk of fractures if you are male (Lee et al., 2014)
- decrease all-cause mortality (Zhao, Zheng, Zuo & Li, 2014; Je & Giovannucci, 2014)
My Take on This
As always, I like to advocate moderation; however, you may need a moderate amount of moderation. In other words, if you drink 8 – 8 ounces of coffee a day then drink 4 of the same amount, that may still be too much for you although you may think its a moderate amount.
Moderation is a relative term. Use it cautiously.
Some of these studies found that consuming relatively high amounts of coffee daily led to positive health benefits. I had to wonder: sure, maybe drinking eight cups of coffee per day has some long term benefits, but what does that kind of daily dosage do to a person in the short term? What kinds of immediate effects do you have to deal with if you’re going to reap these supposed benefits from regular coffee drinking?
Besides the positive psychological effects of alertness and wakefulness, coffee affects the body. For instance, it tends to increase heart rate, which temporarily puts a person at a higher risk of heart disease (McMullen, Whitehouse, Chine, Whitton, & Towell, 2011). It has been shown to increase blood pressure in older people who have hypertension (Rachima-Maoz, Peleg & Rosenthal, 2011). Two other common effects are diuresis, which is an increase in urine output, and natriuresis, which is an increase in sodium in urine. Without proper rehydration, either could be an issue.
There are other drawbacks as well. Coffee creates a dependency, and its withdrawal symptoms are often very unpleasant. According to DiNicolantonio and O’Keefe (2014), the addictive qualities of caffeine could be a helpful way to ensure a daily dose and, possibly, long term benefits down the road. But if the daily dose is too high, side effects can include anxiety, discomfort, and insomnia.
Is a potentially longer life worth the added jitters and occasional sleepless nights? I recommend taking a look at the tendencies of your own mind and body and deciding for yourself.
The bottom line
Coffee apparently has some long term health benefits, some of which are particularly relevant to us men. It creates a dependency (technically not an addiction) that helps to secure those benefits by punishing us when we don’t drink it. Even though high doses of caffeine can have negative side effects, there is always the option of limiting yourself to the appropriate dose. Finding that dose is up to you. Two cups a day, and not more is good. And you should never need coffee to function – if you do, that is a problem. Cheers!
Cao, S., Liu, L., Yin, X., Wang, Y., Liu, J., & Lu, Z. (2014). Coffee consumption and risk of prostate cancer: a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Carcinogenesis, 35(2), 256-261. doi: 10.1093/carcin/bgt482
Ding, M., Bhupathiraju, S. N., Satija, A., van Dam, R. M., & Hu, F. B. (2014). Long-term coffee consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease: a systematic review and a dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Circulation, 129(6), 643-659. doi: 10.1161/circulationaha.113.005925
DiNicolantonio, J. J., O’Keefe, J. H., & Lavie, C. J. (2014). Reply: Effects of Habitual Coffee Consumption on Vascular Function. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 63(6), 607. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jacc.2013.10.005
Je, Y., & Giovannucci, E. (2014). Coffee consumption and total mortality: a meta-analysis of twenty prospective cohort studies. Br J Nutr, 111(7), 1162-1173. doi: 10.1017/s0007114513003814
Lee, D. R., Lee, J., Rota, M., Lee, J., Ahn, H. S., Park, S. M., & Shin, D. (2014). Coffee consumption and risk of fractures: a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis. Bone, 63, 20-28. doi: 10.1016/j.bone.2014.02.007
Liu, J., Sui, X., Lavie, C. J., Hebert, J. R., Earnest, C. P., Zhang, J., & Blair, S. N. (2013). Association of Coffee Consumption With All-Cause and Cardiovascular Disease Mortality. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 88(10), 1066-1074. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.mayocp.2013.06.020
Lu, Y., Zhai, L., Zeng, J., Peng, Q., Wang, J., Deng, Y., . . . Qin, X. (2014). Coffee consumption and prostate cancer risk: an updated meta-analysis. Cancer Causes Control, 25(5), 591-604. doi: 10.1007/s10552-014-0364-8
McMullen, M. K., Whitehouse, J. M., Shine, G., Whitton, P. A., & Towell, A. (2011). The immediate and short-term chemosensory impacts of coffee and caffeine on cardiovascular activity. Food Funct, 2(9), 547-554. doi: 10.1039/c1fo10102a
Rachima-Maoz, C., Peleg, E., & Rosenthal, T. (1998). The effect of caffeine on ambulatory blood pressure in hypertensive patients. Am J Hypertens, 11(12), 1426-1432.
Zhao, Y., Wu, K., Zheng, J., Zuo, R., & Li, D. (2014). Association of coffee drinking with all-cause mortality: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Public Health Nutr, 1-13. doi: 10.1017/s1368980014001438