After a period of darkness in honor of Caballo Blanco, The Straight Dope is back with a different kind of dark. This one, black as midnight on a moonless night, is some serious Friday Psyche about coffee. Here’s an excerpt from an article I wrote evaluating both the good and bad sides of the world’s favorite elixir.
From Harvard Health, “… Studies show that the risk for type 2 diabetes is lower among regular coffee drinkers than among those who don’t drink it. Also, coffee may reduce the risk of developing gallstones, discourage the development of colon cancer, improve cognitive function, reduce the risk of liver damage in people at high risk for liver disease, and reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease. Coffee has also been shown to improve endurance performance in long-duration physical activities.”
As you’ve probably already guessed the article is mainly positive. All 10 of the pluses and minuses listed are from major studies featuring thousands of subjects over a number of years so it’s pretty iron clad data. Some of the more surprising stats show that even excessive coffee drinking can highly beneficial.
At a 2009 conference, they reported that the likelihood of having a stroke was highest among people who didn’t drink coffee and lowest among those who drank the most coffee: 5 percent of people who drank 1 or 2 cups a day suffered strokes, whereas 2.9 percent of people who drank 6 or more cups suffered strokes. So much for moderation.
The summary is that, basically, coffee is almost always good for you if it doesn’t interfere with your sleep (more important than coffee’s benefits) and you don’t load is up with a lot of junk like milk and sugar—-which can have even more dire implications than irritating Harry Callahan.