Is Coffee Drinking Unhealthy?
With the advent of Starbucks Coffee and other coffee bars, drinking coffee has become a fashion statement of the affluent who can afford to spend $4 or more for a large cup of coffee. But, is drinking a lot of coffee all that healthy for you?
A coffee scare has been recently making the rounds of the news media. According to this brand new health research study, drinking more than 28 cups of coffee per week, or four cups a day, may decrease life expectancy in people younger than 55 years of age.
The Natural Health Perspective advises everyone not to put too much weight into this classic armchair research study. At best it should be viewed as an advisory against high coffee consumption, especially by men who accounted for 87.5% of the deaths. Women were not found to be adversely affected by coffee drinking, nearly as much.
The findings of this armchair study simply do not make any sense. Why would those over 55 years of age not be affected, since older people would obviously have been drinking coffee longer during their lifetime than a younger person would have been? Furthermore, whether or not coffee is healthy depends a great deal upon what you put inside that cup in order to change the flavor. Whether or not coffee drunk black is healthier than coffee drunk with an artificial creamer was not addressed by this study. The list of ingredients that people add to their coffee is quite long. Failing to check for the health effects of different additives to coffee makes this entire study beyond laughable.
This is a classic armchair study where researchers sitting at their computers examined the data of another study. In this case, it was the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study where participants completed a medical examination and a 3-day self-reported diet diary between October 1987 and March 1999. These participants were then followed until 2003, in order to record deaths.
Association of Coffee Consumption with Premature Death
Plenty of authoritative people; such as Andrew Weil, MD; would call these self-reported studies notoriously inaccurate. While the duration of this study allegedly covered 17 years, their self-reported diet diary was recorded for only 3 different days during this period. In other words, the possibility of these participants changing their dietary consumption of coffee during this 17 year period was never taken into consideration. Nor, did they even standardize the size of a cup of coffee in ounces.
Just because academics like to play these armchair research study games in order to make money, does not mean that an informed public seeking bona fide health tips, should pay attention to them. Instead of a rush to publish the results of this study online, ahead of print, the Mayo Clinic Proceedings journal should have easily waited another few months, and then forgotten about promoting this sleeper, entirely. When you put garbage data into a study, you obviously are going to get garbage results. Instead of professionalism on the part of the researchers, I would characterize studies like this one a blatant waste of the taxpayer's money that is being throw away with grants funded from the National Institutes of Health.
Nevertheless the possible negative effects of drinking excessive amounts of coffee could be attributed to caffeine stimulating the release of epinephrine, the inhibition of insulin activity, an increase in blood pressure, and increased homocysteine levels which have been reported as possible adverse health factors in other research studies.
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