By Farwa Baqir
Subedited by Joe Cowman
Coffee – health benefits, really? One cup of coffee in the morning can contain more than just a buzz of energy..
Researchers have been looking further into the health benefits associated with the consumption of the black-roasted hot drink. The health benefits found range from reducing gastric cancer risks, to helping prevent diabetes.
The history of the link between drinking coffee and health benefits takes us way back to Ethiopia, where coffee beans were discovered and found to possess medicinal properties, as well as the feeling of elation.
In 1652, the first coffee houses were opened in England – called ‘penny universities’, because with a penny, you could buy a cup of coffee and become intellectually stimulated. Today, coffee has become ever so popular – over 400 billion cups of coffee are consumed every year.
So what are the health benefits?
Researchers have found many potential health benefits associated with drinking coffee, these include: protecting against type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, liver cancer and gastric cancer.
How may coffee intake reduce the risk of type two diabetes?
Researchers from the Harvard school of public health (HSPH) collected data from three studies – within these studies, questionnaires were used every four years to evaluate the diets of the participants. In total, 7,269 study participants had type two diabetes. Researchers found that participants who increased coffee consumption by more than one cup a day (on average, an increase of 1.69 cups per day) over a 4-year period had an 11% lower type two diabetes risk over the 4 years, in comparison with people who did not change their coffee consumption.
But that’s not all, researchers in the United States carried out a study that investigated the connection between coffee consumption and Parkinson’s disease risk. The researchers concluded from this that higher coffee intake is associated with a significantly lower incidence of Parkinson’s disease. In addition, caffeine within coffee may help control movement in people suffering from Parkinson’s, according to a study that was conducted at the research institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI MUHC).
Growing evidence has shown that coffee consumption is inversely related with the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma. Caffeine has been found to maintain strong anti- oxidative activity, which may enable the inhibition of cell proliferation of liver cancer cells when coffee is consumed. Also, some compounds contained in coffee can reduce the genotoxicity of aflatoxin B1 in vitro and lower the damage caused by some carcinogens.
Findings from a meta-analysis further confirmed the inverse association between the coffee consumption and hepatocellular carcinoma risk with quantitative evidence.
The protective effects of consuming coffee were detected among a healthy population and patients with chronic liver diseases, it was also further found to prevent the development of liver cirrhosis. A study published in the journal Hepatology indicates that drinking decaf coffee also lowers liver enzyme levels, suggesting the benefits are not linked to caffeine content. Italian researchers found that drinking coffee reduced the risk of liver cancer by 40%.
Some results even suggest that by drinking three cups a day, the risks are decreased by more than 50%. The lead author of the study, Dr. Carlo La Vecchia, from Milan’s Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri, said “Our research confirms past claims that coffee is good for your health, and particularly the liver.”
Researchers have concluded a moderate daily intake of 3-4 cups of coffee has convincing protective effects against development of type 2 diabetes and Parkinson’s disease. A moderate coffee intake reduces the risk of stroke and the overall risk of cancer. However, pregnant women, people suffering from anxiety disorder, and those with a low calcium intake should restrain from moderate or high intake of coffee. This is due to uncertainty regarding potential negative effects on pregnancy, anxiety and risk of osteoporosis especially in the elderly.