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Coffee

Updated: May 5, 2022

“It’s not just a drink, it’s a lifestyle.” -From: Lectures to medical professionals by D. W. Rhoades

Yes I love my coffee. As a person who really enjoys a great cup of this liquid luxury,

I savor every sip. However, as a physician, I am also keenly aware of the controversy

surrounding this dark delicacy.


So, do I enjoy my passion and toss aside all concern about the possible health

affects? Or do I refrain from appreciating a swallow of silk due to distress of disease

or disability from a small bean?


To settle this internal struggle, I did what any self-respecting scientist would do. I

embarked on a search for information related to the issue. What I present below is a

brief summary of the most important data I accumulated. I will present the concerns

and the answers to those concerns, trying to be impartial as possible.


First, I would like to be serious for a moment. All information shared in this

discussion I took from established sources with references attached at the end of this

article. I caution my readers by saying the obvious. You can easily find sources to

support your point of view and trash your opponent’s opinion. Not all articles and

sources on the Internet are reliable.

Now to the discussion…

Coffee originated in the South Arabian region in the middle of the fifteenth century.

(Weinberg & Bealer, 2001) Since then, it has become one of the most popular drinks

in the world. With this popularity grew concerns that the consumption of too much

coffee was dangerous and could cause adverse effects in those who consumed it.


Coffee and cancer:

The WHO (World Health Organization) added coffee to a “Possible Carcinogen”

list in the early 1990s. Scientists then did what scientists do. They evaluated coffee

and its ingredients to see if coffee did cause cancer. The result, not only did it not

cause cancer, but evidence pointed to coffee preventing certain cancers. The

evidence was so strong, the WHO removed coffee from the possible carcinogen list

in 2016. (Gardiner, 2021)


In a large study looking at Liver and Endometrial (the lining of the uterus) cancers,

there was “highly suggestive evidence” that drinking coffee lowered the risks of

these cancers. This means the researchers took a large number of people and looked

at those with the above cancers and how much coffee was consumed. There was a

relationship between fewer cases of liver and endometrial cancer in coffee drinkers.

In this example, highly suggestive evidence means there is an association between

coffee intake and these cancers. We need more studies to determine the significance

of this association. How much coffee produces a decrease in incidence? How long

do you need to drink it? What other factors did the researchers evaluate? Did the

participants who developed cancer smoke or drink alcohol? Did the women who

developed endometrial cancer have one, multiple or no pregnancies? Did they use

hormones such as estrogen?


In the same article, Gardiner noted less renal cancer and also a protective affect when

it comes to prostate cancer. The conclusion from multiple sources in Gardiner’s

article is that coffee is good in moderation. The consensus of the American Cancer

Society is that 2 to 6 cups a day appear to help decrease the incidence of several

cancers. There are drawbacks we will discuss below. (Sneaky how I can keep your

reading.)


Coffee and your arteries:

Coffee can prevent or decrease atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) with 3 to

5 cups a day associated with fewer (15%) cardiovascular events or heart attacks.

(Fernando Rodriguez-Artalejo, 2021).


Good news when talking about heart attacks, but what about strokes? A study in

2010 (Coffee and acute ischemic stroke onset: the Stroke Onset Study) looked at the

link between coffee and strokes and concluded that,

“Coffee consumption transiently increases the risk of ischemic stroke onset, particularly among infrequent drinkers.” - (E Mostofsky, 2010)

There are important points to discuss when reading the details of this study. The

study only had 390 subjects. With such a small sample size, it is difficult to project

what this means for the population as a whole. In addition, the study does not clearly

define how many cups a day is considered infrequent drinking.


Since the release of the article, several studies have reinforced that regular, low to

moderate coffee consumption decreased the risk factors associated with stroke and

thus, coffee itself does not increase strokes.


Coffee and diabetes:

My favorite drink causes mixed reviews when it comes to diabetes. Studies show

CAFFIENE increases blood sugar in diabetic patients, but COFFEE improves how

our body utilizes insulin. Scientists think this is because the drink (Coffee) is loaded

with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory substances. So, when Caffeine is bad and

Coffee is good, what should people with diabetes do? Drink DECAF! (Liao, 2021)

It seems coffee is getting some good reviews. Let’s grab a cup and…

NOT SO FAST! There are less attractive consequences about coffee we must

consider.

Regular coffee, and the caffeine associated with it, affects our sleep. In other

discussions we will touch on the importance of sleep to our mind, body and spirit.

Suffice to say for now, if coffee is affecting your sleep, switch to decaf after twelve

noon. Your sleep is too important.

Coffee can worsen reflux (when acid moves up into our feeding tube or esophagus).

Caffeine stimulates our gallbladder, but this only causes problems if you have

gallbladder disease. It also stimulates how fast our colon works, similar to eating a

meal. (Boekema PJ, 1999)

We need to also consider what we add to our coffee. Did you really put four

teaspoons of sugar in that mug? And those fancy concoctions at your local coffee

house have a good portion of cream added. Remember that your sugar and cream

add fat and calories. And increased fat and calories impacts your weight. And obesity

is a risk factor for different cancers, diabetes and atherosclerosis.


In our brief discussion it appears coffee is a great drink. But we must remember, all

things in moderation. Coffee benefits our bodies with reducing the risk of certain

cancers and heart disease. If you are diabetic or suffer from certain stomach issues

or have trouble sleeping, drink DECAF. And avoid loading your coffee with sugar

and cream. Go for low sugar and low-fat options when flavoring your coffee.


To summarize coffee as it relates to the holistic theme of this website, let us consider

the full range of benefits this beverage brings to our lives.


Coffee may help your body with certain cancers, diabetes and heart issues. Coffee

also affects our mind by improving concentration. Coffee helps our spirit by bringing

you pleasure when you drink it. Our spirit also thrives with the community coffee

brings. We enjoy sitting down at work for a “coffee break.” We invite a new friend

we met online to “meet for coffee.” When we visit family, someone always “puts a

pot of coffee on.”


To close this, I just have to say one more time…


Coffee.

“It’s not just a drink, it’s a lifestyle.”


Thank you so much for taking the time to read this.

Have a good day.

Give respect and be kind.

D. W. Rhoades



Bibliography:


Boekema PJ, S. M. (1999). PubMed. Retrieved from Coffee and gastrointestinal function: facts and fiction. A review. Scand J Gastroenterol Suppl. 1999;230:35-9. doi: 10.1080/003655299750025525. PMID: 10499460.: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10499460/


Fernando Rodriguez-Artalejo, E. L.-G. (2021, October 10). pubmed National Center for Biotechnology Information, National Library of Medicine, National Institute of Health. Retrieved from pubmed:


Gardiner, A. (2021, March 26). mdlinx.com/article/what's the link between coffee and cancer. Retrieved from mdlinx.com:


Liao, S. (2021, May 14). webmd.com/diabetes/diabetes-and-caffeine. Retrieved from WebMD:


Weinberg, B. A., & Bealer, B. K. (2001). The World of Caffeine: The Science and Culture of the World's Most Popular Drug. New York: Rutledge.


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