Is Coffee Good for Your Health?

Eight hundred years ago Ethiopian goat herders noticed their flocks stayed awake at night after eating the leaves and berries of a small tree. The goat herders made a drink from the berries and coffee was discovered! The world has been on a caffeine high ever since.

Ehtiopian Coffee Beans

There are many controversies over the benefits and side effects of caffeine and coffee. I thought you might be interested in some facts on this subject. The best scientific article I could find is entitled “The Health Consequences of Caffeine” by Peter Curatolo M.D. and David Robertson M.D., published in Annals of Internal Medicine (May 1983). The authors report not only on their own findings, but also combine them with the findings from 281 other scientific articles.

Caffeine is the most frequently studied chemical in coffee, but there are hundreds of others. One of these is chlorogenic acid, which may have detrimental effects on our bodies. There are many conflicting reports on caffeine’s effects because it acts very differently in chronic users (heavy coffee drinkers) and occasional users.

Caffeine’s effects on the heart can be critical. In non-coffee drinkers caffeine will increase the blood pressure and the heart rate, often making people jumpy and jittery. Two studies showed a two fold increase of heart attacks in people who drink more than six cups of coffee daily. However more recent investigations have failed to support this finding. Who is correct? It is known that caffeine increases the incidence of premature ventricular contractions (extra heart beats) and cardiac arrhythmias (irregular heart beats) in susceptible persons.

As it did with the goats in Ethiopia, coffee interferes with human sleep. Caffeine delays sleep, decreases total sleep time and diminishes the quality of sleep.

Its effect on mood is variable. Non-drinkers of coffee report anxiety and nervousness when they imbibe, while chronic coffee drinkers report “pleasant stimulation” and alertness — the morning “pick-me-up” reported by regular coffee users.

Although caffeine can increase the muscular response time to stimuli, it has no significant reversal of the depressant effect of alcohol. This means that coffee will NOT improve your driving if you have had too much to drink.

Can coffee cause cancer? Thirty years ago there was concern that coffee might contribute to the development of pancreatic cancer. This fear did not hold up in later studies. At this time there is no link between a cancer and caffeine. Are there any benefits to drinking coffee other than the morning “pick me up?” A fascinating article in the May 24, 2000, issue of The Jounal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) suggests that there is.

A thirty-five (35) year long study of 8,000 Japanese-American men in Hawaii showed that the more coffee the men drank the less their chance of developing Parkinson’s disease (PD). With this condition tremors develop in the hands and then increase to a point where it affects the brain. Muhammad Ali, Michael J. Fox and Attorney General Janet Reno are Parkinson’s disease sufferers.

In this study non-coffee drinkers had 5 times the chance of developing PD as did those men who drank 4 to 5 cups of coffee a day.

The authors of the article stress that further studies must be performed before coffee can be recommended for prevention or treatment of Parkinson’s disease.

As I drink my 3rd cup of coffee in the morning, I tell my wife that I’m only doing it for my health. Her reply, because of my coffee edginess, is that she might not let me live long enough to develop Parkinson’s disease.

Christiaan Janssens

CRO Akwa Wellness


Ross GW, Abbott RD, Petrovitch H, et al. Association of Coffee and Caffeine Intake With the Risk of Parkinson Disease. JAMA. 2000;283(20):2674–2679. doi:10.1001/jama.283.20.2674.

Nehlig A, Daval J-L, Debry G. Caffeine and the central nervous system: mechanisms of action, biochemical, metabolic and psychostimulant effects. Brain Res Rev.1992;17:139–170.

Watanabe H, Uramoto H. Caffeine mimics dopamine receptor agonists without stimulation of dopamine receptors. Neuropharmacology.1986;25:577–581.

Shoulson I, Chase TN. Caffeine and the antiparkinsonian response to levodopa or piribedil. Neurology.1975;25:722–724.

Curb JD, Reed D, Kautz J, Yano K. Coffee, caffeine and serum cholesterol in Japanese men in Hawaii. Am J Epidemiol.1986;123:648–655.

Yano K, Rhoads GG, Kagan A. Coffee, alcohol and the risk of coronary heart disease among Japanese men living in Hawaii. N Engl J Med.1977;297:405–409.




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