Three cups of coffee a day ‘may have health benefits’

Drinking three to four cups of coffee a day may have health benefits in addition to kickstarting your day. A recent meta-study published in the British Medical Journal found that compared to people who did not drink coffee at all, those that drank three to four cups of coffee were found to have a lower risk of developing liver disease, some cancers and even a lower risk of dying from stroke. The impact of coffee was most marked in lowering risk of liver disease including cancer.

The meta-study conducted by the University of Southampton included over 200 studies, primarily observational, to analyze the impact of coffee on the human body. The research cannot confirm if the lowered risk for these diseases can be attributed to coffee alone. Other lifestyle factors such as body weight, history of smoking and alcohol consumption and exercise habits are all significant in determining the level of risk individuals are exposed to.

Prof Paul Roderick, co-author of the study, from the faculty of medicine at University of Southampton said, “There is a balance of risks in life, and the benefits of moderate consumption of coffee seem to outweigh the risks.”

While drinking coffee appeared to have a protective effect, the study does not suggest that people start consuming coffee for improving health, especially pregnant women. The University of Southampton study confirmed the harmful effects of coffee on pregnancy and on women at higher risk of fractures. Drinking more than the recommended amount has been associated with increased risk of miscarriages. The NHS recommends that pregnant women may not consume more than 200 mg of caffeine per day or roughly two cups of instant coffee per day. Women at risk of fractures should also decrease their intake of coffee. All others adults can safely enjoy up to 400 mg of caffeine per day or about three to four cups

Research suggests that the health benefits of coffee might be attributed to anti-oxidants and anti-fibrotic that slows down cellular damage and urged readers to consume coffee without extra milk, cream and sugar or high-fat snacks to go with it as these unhealthy sides might diminish the health benefits of coffee.

Eliseo Guallar, John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, commented on the Southampton meta-study saying there was still uncertainty about the effects of higher levels of coffee intake but he concludes that “moderate coffee consumption seems remarkably safe.”