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For ages, coffee has been a known medicine, and ancient people used it to treat excess phlegm, known today as chronic bronchitis. They also found that coffee alleviated lethargy.
Coffee is rich in a variety of antioxidant compounds, such as chlorogenic acids and melanoidins.
Chlorogenic acids may help lose weight and lower total cholesterol. Melanoidins, found in roasted beans, exerts antimicrobial activities and exhibits an array of health properties.
Despite being used to alleviate diseases and syndromes since medieval times, coffee raised health concerns and disputes after acrylamide, naturally formed during the baking process, was found in the beverage.
If we want to know when acrylamide would harm our body, we need to look at some numbers.
According to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the lower limit of the dose range within which acrylamide is likely to cause a tumor incidence is 0.17mg/kg bw/ day.
It means if a person weighs 70kg (155pounds), he or she will have to consume 11.9mg (11900microg) of acrylamide a day before the substance causes a health alarm.
And studies discovered that the acrylamide level in roasted coffee is 179 microg/kg and 358 microg/kg in instant coffee. Here the kg refers to coffee weight, not human body weight. And one single cup of roasted coffee (160ml) produced an average of 0.45microg of acrylamide.
It looks like we do not have to worry about acrylamide yet if we are not drinking coffee in barrels.
Still, there are things to consider.
First, acrylamide aside, too much caffeine in the coffee can lead to poor sleep, elevated blood pressure, and a jittery feeling.
Second, when cooked in high temperatures, potato and grain products also contain acrylamide. Those products include biscuits, cereals, potato chips, French fries, and so on. People need to be careful of the acrylamide level in their bodies if their daily diet involves such food.
Now, here is what the researchers have found about coffee and health.
1. People who drink more coffee tend to live longer
Moderate coffee drinking, or three to four cups a day, has been linked to a longer lifespan.
A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine discovered that higher levels of coffee consumption are linked with a lower risk of premature death from various causes. It means that the more coffee people drink, the less likely they are to die prematurely.
This research involved 521,300 participants from 10 European countries for more than a decade.
What is a bit controversial is that this study suggested that coffee was positively associated with ovarian cancer. But later research found no evidence that coffee was linked to the disease.
2. Dark roasted coffee blend may reduce DNA damage
One study released by the European Journal of Nutrition divided the participants into two groups. One consumed 500ml of freshly brewed dark roast coffee blend per day, and the other drank at least 500ml of water. No coffee, tea, or caffeinated beverage was allowed for the latter group.
The results showed that the DNA damage of the coffee group was 23 percent lower than that of the non-coffee group.
3. Both regular and decaf coffee lower people’s chances of getting colorectal cancer
Researchers examined a total of 9,242 participants in Israel on their coffee consumption and the risk of developing colon and rectum cancers. They measured the types of coffee and servings per day, among other things.
The findings, published in the Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, revealed that coffee drinkers were 26 percent less likely to develop colorectal cancer than non-coffee drinkers. Both decaf and regular coffee reduced the risk of this type of cancer.
4. Caffeinated coffee reduces the likelihood of skin cancer
Using data from the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study in the United States, researchers analyzed the links between coffee drinking and skin cancers.
The study, published on the American Association for Cancer Research website, found that men and women who drank the most coffee were at the lowest risk of developing skin cancers, including basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma.
But that research has not found the same protective effect in decaf coffee. Nor was it observed in other caffeinated drinks.
5. Coffee might reduce the risk of getting liver cancer
European Endocrinology published an article in 2013, saying that studies had found an inverse association between coffee drinking and liver health. It means that the more coffee people drink, the less likely they are to get liver cancer.
But what is worth noting is that years later, in 2020, the British Medical Journal wrote that some people thought this conclusion between coffee and liver cancer prevention is “too strong.” Nevertheless, this journal article agreed that “coffee might have a true protective effect because it contains many bioactive compounds.”
So that is what some of the research said about coffee and health. In addition to reducing cancer risks, coffee is also linked to preventing type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and depression.
But whether you’re drinking coffee to prevent diseases or simply want to enjoy it, moderation is the key. Too much of it, and your body will hate it.
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