Coffee may not only give you a morning boost; it also may have significant health benefits.
So says a review by British scientists of more than 200 studies on coffee consumption and health, published Wednesday in The BMJ, a British medical journal.
“Coffee drinking appears safe within usual patterns of consumption,” said the University of Southhampton's Robin Poole, who led the study.
According to the researchers, people who drink three to four cups of coffee a day are more likely to see health benefits than harm, experiencing lower rates of premature death, cardiovascular disease and liver disease.
Drinking more coffee is also associated with a decrease in several types of cancer — including prostate cancer, endometrial cancer, skin cancer, leukemia and liver cancer — according to the researchers' findings. There were also lower rates of type 2 diabetes, gallstones and dementia associated with coffee consumption.
Drinking three to four cups of coffee offers the most health benefits, except for pregnant women and people who are prone to bone fractures.
Since the review was an analysis of existing studies, it is impossible to account for many other factors that might have influenced the subjects' health. More studies would be needed to determine causation and not just correlation. In other words, it might be that healthier people also drink coffee, but the review's findings suggest that there are more positive effects than negative ones.
Although the review found that there was more benefit than harm from drinking coffee, the studies were not adjusted for important confounders, such as body mass index, smoking, age, alcohol use, income and education level.