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Debating the Health Benefits of Coffee

A "controversy session" about the health benefits and dangers of drinking coffee was recently held in Washington, DC.

The scientists attending the meeting discussed the evidence that coffee can help ward off type 2 diabetes, and that it can help prevent certain cancers while increasing the risk of developing others.

Coffee may protect against colon, rectal, and liver cancers through several mechanisms, including reducing the amount of cholesterol, bile acid and natural sterol secretion in the colon.

But coffee can also raise the risks for leukemia and stomach cancer.

Coffee could also help reduce type 2 diabetes risks, possibly through the action of its component chlorogenic acid, which slows the absorption of glucose in the intestines.

Yahoo News May 1, 2007

Dr. Mercola's Comment:

Please, don't interpret this as an excuse to hit your local coffee shop for a super-sized caffeine kick. Coffee studies tend to conflict quite a bit. Despite what you may have heard in the news recently about the health benefits of drinking coffee, the evidence isn't nearly as convincing as the experts have assumed.

My guess is that it was promoted by researchers and reporters that merely wanted to justify their coffee habit. Please remember, caffeine is a drug; it just happens to be a very common legal drug, but it's a drug nevertheless -- with very powerful actions.

I don't know about you but I don't want to rely on drugs to achieve any benefits if I can find a natural alternative. The only justification for using coffee would be to help you overcome severe jet lag to help you stay awake until your desired bedtime. Even then, it should be used with sublingual melatonin immediately prior to going to sleep.

It is true that there have been studies attesting to coffee's contribution in cutting your risk of developing breast cancer, liver cancer and diabetes. But coffee drinkers are also likely increasing their risks of other deadly diseases, such as stomach cancer and leukemia, which has prompted some experts to suggest that pregnant women and children limit their intake.

From my point of view it is reprehensibly irresponsible to suggest that it is OK for pregnant women to drink coffee. There is a substantial amount of research showing that it clearly increases their risk of spontaneous abortion. Even the conservative New England Journal of Medicine and the FDA advise pregnant women to avoid coffee.

Drinking coffee also has other well-documented problems. For instance, it may interfere with your body's ability to keep homocysteine and cholesterol levels in check, most likely by inhibiting the action of the vitamins folate, B12 and/or B6, for one. Additionally, coffee has been previously associated with an increased risk of stroke and rheumatoid arthritis.

It's very interesting that science is becoming more aware of both the risks and advantages of consuming coffee at the very same time that many are leaving Starbucks behind for soft drinks, which are among the most toxic things anyone could consume and are a major contributor to the epidemic of obesity that currently plagues our planet.

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