Coffee's health risks and benefits explored and debunked

Is coffee good or bad for you? We did some research (Photo: Shutterstock)Is coffee good or bad for you? We did some research (Photo: Shutterstock)
Is coffee good or bad for you? We did some research (Photo: Shutterstock)

As a nation, the UK drinks around 55 million cups of coffee per day, but is it a harmful habit?

There is a great deal of ongoing debate about the impact coffee may have on our health, for better or for worse.

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Here are some of the most common statements made about coffee's health benefits (or lack of them) and the facts you should know.

'Drinking coffee makes you live longer'

Several studies attempting to confirm whether drinking coffee helps people to live longer or cuts their lives short have been carried out in recent history.

Research done in 2012 suggested that higher coffee consumption was associated with lower risk of death. However, the authors of that study noted that they could not be sure that there was any real correlation between the two.

Later investigations found that drinking two to four cups of coffee per day lowered the risk of death from all diseases by up to 16 per cent.

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'Pregnant women should not drink coffee'

It is true that the NHS recommend limiting your caffeine intake to 200 milligrams per day while pregnant, but this is still the equivalent of two mugs of instant coffee.

Furthermore, official guidelines state that occasionally exceeding the recommended amount of caffeine is perfectly fine, as the risks are small.

The jury is out on whether dark roasts are bad or beneficial for your health (Photo: Shutterstock)

'Coffee causes heart disease'

Research has found that moderate coffee consumption does not contribute towards the risk of heart disease.

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'Decaf coffee is completely caffeine free'

If you want to cut out caffeine completely, it is best to avoid decaffeinated coffee, as a cup can contain up to 32 milligrams of caffeine.

A normal cup of coffee usually contains between 95 and 100 milligrams of caffeine, so decaf certainly contains much less caffeine, but it is not caffeine-free.

'Coffee causes cancer'

There is a great deal of debate about whether coffee can be a contributing factor towards cancer.

For example, studies have shown that drinking coffee every day can lower your chances of developing bowel cancer, but other research indicates that consuming more than two cups per day increases a smoker's risk of developing lung cancer by 14 per cent.

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Equally, many reviews have found no relationship between coffee and cancer.

If you drink coffee regularly, you could have a lower risk of developing Parkinson's disease (Photo: Shutterstock)

'Coffee can lower the risk of diabetes'

A 2014 study of over one million people revealed that every cup of coffee drunk lowered the risk of type 2 diabetes by nine per cent.

'Dark roast coffee is better for you'

Many feel that drinking dark roast coffee helps to restore red blood cells and boost vitamin E levels, but others argue that the darker the roast, the more likely your coffee is to contain carcinogens.

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The jury is officially out on this one, although a Californian judge did recently rule that all coffee companies in the state must display health warnings on their coffee because of the risk of carcinogens.

'Coffee can lower the risk of Parkinson's disease'

Preliminary tests (carried out last year) do indicate that long-term coffee consumption is associated with a lower risk of degenerative disorder, Parkinson's disease, though it is still early days.

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