Coffee: Helpful or Harmful?

When I think about growing up and hearing about coffee, one word comes to mind: mixed signals. I feel like there is new research and a changed social opinion on whether coffee is healthy or unhealthy for you. I also feel that people in society have certain "facts" about coffee that are completely bogus. Personally, my family and I have never been coffee drinkers, which I find is somewhat rare in our society. We have never had health problems, but that is no evidence that coffee is bad for you.


According to Dr. Patricia Fitzgerald, who is a nutritionist, allows her patients to keep drinking there daily cup of joe! The article Clinical Nutrition says that coffee drinkers have a lower risk of diabetes. Other research from Dr. Fitzgerald shows that coffee can lower the risk of prostate and skin cancer. Other research from The University of South Florida and The University of Miami found that the amount of caffeine in the coffee can actually delay Alzheimer's disease and lengthen your life. Researchers from Harvard University, said that women who drink two to three cups of caffeinated coffee a day have a 15% lower risk of depression then women who don't drink coffee. That same study concluded that regular coffee drinkers have a decreased stroke risk and heart failure.

Clearly, there seems to be some great health benefits from drinking coffee! I see a lot of pros, but how about the cons?

Mark Hyman, who is a practicing physician, has personal experience with coffee. He talks about  how in college he would use coffee to study for exams, and when he would work long days in the E.R, he would need coffee all do long like he was a drug addict. After he quit coffee, he felt reenergized, and realized that he had been living on borrowed energy. This is because caffeine is addictive. Ronald Griffiths, a professor in the departments of psychiatry and neuroscience at The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, said that experiments have been done where subjects were given a minimum of one hundred milligrams of caffeine a day. That is about the equivalent of a cup of coffee. This can trigger a physical addiction which can lead to headaches, muscle pains and stiffness, lethargy, nausea, vomiting, depressed mood, and irritability. 


Other than addiction, coffee releases dopamine, which helps you focus, concentrate, and remember. But, over time, dopamine kills your neurotransmitters which makes it ineffective. Drinking coffee can increase homocysteine, which increases your risk for heart disease, depression, cancer, and dementia. Homocysteine also destroys your vitamins and minerals in your body, including magnesium. Coffee can increase your risk of osteoporosis, liver damage, diarrhea, reflux, and heartburn. It can also increase the risk of stillbirths and iron deficiency in mothers and babies. 

Clearly there are pros and cons to drinking coffee and not drinking coffee. Personally, it makes complete sense to stay away from it. Yea, there are some benefits, but there are many negatives! If there was one negative, I would probably still stay away from it! There is nothing wrong in drinking coffee once or twice a week, but habitual use is dangerous. I think people have to start opening there eyes and realize the consequences and true dangers that coffee presents.


this is a issue that relies solely on the individual's body. however your body reacts to the coffee I think really determines what pros and cons apply to your body. also, the genetics of the individual plays a factor when determining the which organs are effected the most and how the rates are with the risks. people should just follow a recommenced amount based on their primary physicians' evaluation of the individual's blood condition, genetics and things in that nature instead of setting a " standard or recommended amount for everyone'. but, overall this is a very interesting topic that definitely gets tossed around by the science community and the media.

I agree with you Michael that people need to “wake up and smell the coffee” because there are many dangers to drinking coffee as you stated. I also agree that drinking coffee in moderation is the way to go because I doubt that effects like vomiting, heart disease, liver damage and depression could occur if you’re not a heavy coffee drinker. At the same time though, I can’t be so sure.

If I were asked a question like Andrew asks us at the end of each pop quiz “Given the negative effects of drinking coffee, would a rational person stop drinking coffee even on a weekly basis?” I would say yes. The reason why I would say yes is because even though drinking only one to two cups a week would be better than drinking it more often, we don’t know if the result from drinking coffee could be the same after many years of this. If drinking one to two cups of coffee a week could get us the same negative effects as drinking coffee constantly with the only difference being how soon these effects take place it’s best that we stop drinking coffee altogether. Therefore more science needs to be done on this topic because like the situation with bloodletting (where a method was used because it was thought of as most efficient) people could drink coffee “in moderation” because they think it’s better than drinking it constantly, but could end up still being negatively affected.

the long term effects of coffee seem high variable to an individuals health. in my own research the mayo clinic considers the effects of individuals different rates of caffeine metabolism in relationship with the effects (positive or negative) caffeine may have. I am a coffee drinker, for taste, it does not have a strong effect in energizing me.

Would you consider some of the more serious negative health risks may be a third variable issue rather than a direct effect of coffee consumption

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