Ask the Doctors: Coffee has potential health benefits, probably thanks to the complex compounds it contains
These include a lower risk of problems including Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, chronic liver disease, Parkinson’s disease, depression and liver and endometrial cancers.
Dear Doctors: It seems like there’s always a new study that says coffee is healthy or that it’s bad for you. I love my daily morning cup and hope that the most recent news about coffee is good.
Dear Reader: Research is uncovering a range of potential health benefits for moderate coffee drinkers.
These include a lower risk of health problems including Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, chronic liver disease, Parkinson’s disease, depression and liver and endometrial cancers.
Though the stimulant effect of caffeine is a major reason for coffee’s popularity, it’s unlikely that plays a role in health benefits. Scientists suspect the credit goes to the dozens of other complex compounds coffee contains.
A study in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, published last fall, examined the effects of coffee consumption on cognitive impairment in 227 adults in their 60s. None had memory problems. The health questionnaire they answered included questions about how much coffee they drank and how often. Cognition was assessed every 18 months over the course of the 10-year study. The findings suggested a link between daily coffee consumption and lower — and slower — rates of cognitive decline and impairment.
A recent study from China linked coffee drinking to longer life. The researchers followed the health outcomes of about 170,000 adults in their mid-50s for seven years. None had cancer or cardiovascular disease. Those who drank a moderate amount of coffee each day — between two and five cups — were less likely to die during the period of the study.
And the health benefits extended even to those coffee drinkers who added a teaspoon of sugar to their cup.
It’s important to remember that the caffeine in coffee can interfere with sleep and cause the jitters. And older adults, who often metabolize caffeine more slowly, might have to adjust their habits as they age.
Dr. Eve Glazier and Dr. Elizabeth Ko are internists at UCLA Health.