Coffee – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

After water, coffee is the most consumed substance worldwide and its trade exceeds US $10 billion.  For some reason most of my patients think coffee is detrimental to their health, so firstly let’s get the bad news over with.  An American study looked at ovarian cancer incidence from 1986 to 2004 and found an increased risk in those women who reported drinking five or more cups/day of caffeinated coffee.  No other cancer demonstrates an increased risk.

   Coffee raises blood pressure and homocysteine, a substance usually harmlessly recycled, but when elevated, is associated with an increased risk of heart disease, osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s dementia. It’s something that your physician can measure as part of your routine health assessment.  Vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid have the power to lower homocysteine. Coffee can make adolescents depressed rather than anxious and affect their school performance adversely, possibly by keeping them up at night.  Coffee also increases cholesterol levels, but it also makes HDL, the so-called good cholesterol, go up.

  Then there’s a load of benefits. Coffee is a cognitive enhancer and it helps to prevent    Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s dementia, as well as type 2 diabetes mellitus and liver diseases, like cirrhosis and liver cancer.  In addition, coffee contains phenolic compounds with antioxidant properties and by preventing LDL, the harmful cholesterol from becoming oxidized or attacked by free radicals and inhibiting platelets, the blood cells that make clots to stop you bleeding, from clumping together in the bloodstream, may arrest the process of atherosclerosis.

  In summary an expert review states that ’intake of 2-3 cups/daily of coffee can improve   cognitive functioning, the sense of sensation, as well as digestion. Moreover, the same    dosage could be effective against coronary heart diseases, diabetes mellitus, liver, kidney, and to a lesser extent, premenopausal breast cancers as well as colorectal cancers, Parkinsonism, and Alzheimer’s disease.’

  Is there an ugly?  Coffee can have a diuretic effect and if your liver detoxifying capacity is reduced, it can make you anxious and depressed.  This is certainly my experience, so for some drinking three cups per day may be somewhat demanding on their metabolisms.

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