Coffee – Does a Cup a Day Keep the Doctor Away?

After all the warnings we’ve heard about coffee over the years, is it true that coffee might actually be good for you?

It appears that may well be the case. According to preventive medicine specialist Donald Hensrud, M.D., it’s likely coffee has gotten a bum rap over the years.

Coffee Bean Heart

We’ve all heard allegations that coffee contributes to cancer and heart disease. Not necessarily so, says Hensrud, pointing out that earlier studies connecting coffee consumption to an increased heart disease and cancer risk didn’t take into account high-risk behaviors, such as smoking and physical inactivity, often associated with coffee drinking at the time the studies were conducted.

Hensrud goes further, reporting that more recent studies have shown that coffee, high in antioxidants, may help protect you against Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes, and liver cancer.

Dr. Michael Greger of The Huffington Post reports that The New England Journal of Medicine published results of a study which found that coffee consumption is associated with longer life for both men and women. According to Greger, the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study followed over half a million people for over a dozen years before reaching this conclusion.

Referring to a recent analysis of studies on the benefits of drinking coffee, Greger goes on to suggest that coffee appears to lower the risk of various cancers by about 3%.

That’s just about the opposite of what we grew up hearing.

Harvard Medical School weighs in by listing some apparent benefits of coffee in its Family Health Guide, which reports that coffee appears to lower your risk of diabetes. The Guide also backs up the assertion that coffee helps lower your chance of developing colon, breast, rectal, and liver cancers (the last of these by a whopping 50%).

The Guide indicates coffee drinkers are less likely than nondrinkers to suffer from gallstones. It also indicates coffee drinking offers some protection against Parkinson’s disease to men, though not to women.

CNN checks in with a report stating that drinking coffee can help lower men’s risk of developing advanced or lethal prostate cancer. The report also links the right amount of coffee consumption – in this case, 3 to 5 cups a day – with a lowered risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s later in life.

Three to five cups a day is more than most proponents of coffee-drinking for health call for. The same CNN report states what many of us know – that coffee can stay in your system up to 12 hours, and can affect your ability to sleep well. The report also reminds us that coffee, a potent diuretic, can increase urine output to the point of causing dehydration.

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