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10 Reasons To Curb Your Coffee Intake!
Beth M. Ley, Ph.D.

Coffee is been a controversial subject for some time. Nobody wants anyone to mess with their coffee! The bottom line is that while it can do some good (for example, it contains protective polyphenol antioxidants), but it also can do some harm, especially in high amounts. It is best to educate yourself properly so that you can make a proper decision. But it is probably best for all coffee drinkers to do so in moderation!

Several studies show that men (but not women) who regularly consume caffeinated drinks have a lower risk of Parkinson’s Disease than do nondrinkers. It is believed that caffeine may maintain dopamine levels by counteracting compounds which inhibit it’s transmission. (Hernan) There is research showing a protective effect of coffee against some types of colon cancer. (Woolcott) And the controversial information on coffee and diabetes is still in great debate. Some research indicates that coffee consumers actually have decreased diabetes risk as it may help reguate glucose levels (van Dam), but because of the increased risks of increased homocyteine and other factors related to heart disease with coffee, many authorities strongly advise diabetics against it.

When I teach I always try to tell people that I am not against coffee. I enjoy my coffee as much as the next person! After all, coffee beans are plant vegetation that God made for us to eat (This makes coffee a vegetable!). God made coffee, And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. (Genesis 1:31). However, I put coffee in the same “category” as honey as the Bible tells us it is ok to eat, but not too much.

My son, eat thou honey, because [it is] good; and the honeycomb, which is sweet to thy taste: Hast thou found honey? eat so much as is sufficient for thee, lest thou be filled therewith, and vomit it. (Proverbs 24:13,16) It is not good to eat much honey: so for men to search their own glory is not glory. (Proverbs 25:27)

1. Coffee contains caffeine which in high quantities can be addicting (creating a stronghold). (Dews, Rogers) Many people end up daily coffee drinkers just to avoid or cure the withdrawal symptoms if they do not have their daily coffee. The Bible encourages us not to rely upon ANYTHING other than God.

2.. Coffee increases blood pressure in individuals prone to hypertension. It does not, however, cause hypertension in otherwise healthy individuals. (Basile)

3.Caffeinated beverages (>/=180 mg caffeine or about one cup of strong coffee) may not be recommended for patients with normotensive glaucoma or ocular hypertension because coffee tends to increase intraocular pressure in individuals predisposed to this condition. (Avisar)

4. Coffee drinkers tend to have elevated levels of homocystiene. Homocystiene levels are associated with an increased risk for heart disease. This may be in part because of coffees diuretic action causing B vitamins such as folic acid to be flushed out. Folic acid is an important nutrient to keep homocystiene levels in check. (Verhoef, Olthof)

5. Coffee is extremely acidic. Coffee is one of the most acid-forming foods we can consume. This again is in part because of it’s diuretic action on the body causing valuable minerals to be flushed out. Mineral deficiencies are associated with osteoporosis, periodontal disease, muscle cramps, shin splints, hypertension and also cancer.

6. There are studies which show increased risk potential for birth defects from coffee consumption. Therefore, pregnant mothers should be advised to limit their coffee and caffeine intake to 300 mg. caffeine/day (i.e. 2-3 cups of coffee) especially because of the increase of caffeine half-life during the third trimester of pregnancy and in the neonate. (Nehlig)

7. One Swedish study shows that avoiding coffee may slightly reduce the risk of BPH (benign prostatic enlargement). (Gass)

8. Unfiltered coffee may raise LDL cholesterol. Unfiltered coffee is also known as boiled coffee which is consumed more in Europe than it is in the US. (Huijing) A Netherlands study showed that French press coffee (boiled) consumption (approximately 1 cup daily) increased cholesterol ester transfer protein activity levels by 18% which may contribute to increased levels of LDL cholesterol. (De Roos)

9. Heavy coffee consumption (4 or more cups/day) may increase the risk of pancreatic cancer. A Japanese study shows that men who report a history of diabetes mellitus and women who reported a history of gallstone/cholecystitis were at significantly (2-fold) increased risk of death from pancreatic cancer. (Lin)

10. Drinking more than two cups of coffee daily may boost estrogen levels in women and could worsen conditions such as endometriosis and breast pain. This could also increase risk for breast and endometrial cancer. Women who consumed more than one cup of coffee a day had significantly higher levels of estrogen during the early follicular phase of their menstrual cycle. Women who consumed at least 500 milligrams of caffeine daily, the equivalent of four or five cups of coffee, had nearly 70% more estrogen than women consuming no more than 100 mg of caffeine daily, or less than one cup of coffee. (Lucero)

Those of you thinking of switching to decaff... not so fast! Decaffeinated coffee intake is independently and positively associated with Rheumatoid arthritis onset, (Mikuls) And both decaffeinated coffee and coffee with caffeine cause heartburn. (Zivkovic)

ALSO... Coffee is usually the most contaminated crop with pesticides. If you do drink coffee you would be best served by drinking organic coffee only.

Scientific References:

Ascherio A, Chen H, Schwarzschild MA, Zhang SM, Colditz GA, Speizer FE.; Caffeine, postmenopausal estrogen, and risk of Parkinson's disease. Neurology. 2003 Mar 11;60(5):790-5.

Avisar R, Avisar E, Weinberger D. Effect of coffee consumption on intraocular pressure. Department of Ophthalmology and External Eye Disease Clinic, Rabin Medical Center, Petah Tiqva, Israel. Ann Pharmacother. 2002 Jun;36(6):992-5.

Dews PB, Curtis GL, Hanford KJ, O'Brien CP. The frequency of caffeine withdrawal in a population-based survey and in a controlled, blinded pilot experiment. J Clin Pharmacol. 1999 Dec;39(12):1221-32.

Gass R. Benign prostatic hyperplasia: the opposite effects of alcohol and coffee intake. BJU Int. 2002 Nov;90(7):649-54.

Hernan MA, Takkouche B, Caamano-Isorna F, A meta-analysis of coffee drinking, cigarette smoking, and the risk of Parkinson's disease. Ann Neurol. 2002 Sep;52(3):276-84.

Huijing F. Unfiltered coffee raises cholesterol. South Med J. 2002 Jun;95(6):660-1.

Lane JD, Pieper CF, Phillips-Bute BG, Bryant JE, Kuhn CM. Caffeine affects cardiovascular and neuroendocrine activation at work and home. Psychosom Med. 2002 Jul-Aug;64(4):595-603.

Lin Y, Tamakoshi A, Kawamura T, Inaba Y, Kikuchi S, Motohashi Y, Kurosawa M, Ohno Y. Risk of pancreatic cancer in relation to alcohol drinking, coffee consumption and medical history: findings from the Japan collaborative cohort study for evaluation of cancer risk. Int J Cancer. 2002 Jun 10;99(5):742-6.

Lucero J, Harlow BL, Barbieri RL, Sluss P, Cramer DW; Early follicular phase hormone levels in relation to patterns of alcohol, tobacco, and coffee use. Fertil Steril. 2001 Oct;76(4):723-9.

Mikuls TR, Cerhan JR, Criswell LA, Merlino L, Mudano AS, Burma M, Folsom AR, Saag KG. Coffee, tea, and caffeine consumption and risk of rheumatoid arthritis: results from the Iowa Women's Health Study. Arthritis Rheum. 2002 Jan;46(1):83-91.

Nawrot P, Jordan S, Eastwood J, Rotstein J, Hugenholtz A, Feeley M. Effects of caffeine on human health. Food Addit Contam. 2003 Jan;20(1):1-30. Review.

Nehlig A, Debry G. Potential teratogenic and neurodevelopmental consequences of coffee and caffeine exposure: a review on human and animal data. Neurotoxicol Teratol. 1994 Nov-Dec;16(6):531-43. Review.

Nehlig A, Debry G. Consequences on the newborn of chronic maternal consumption of coffee during gestation and lactation: a review. J Am Coll Nutr. 1994 Feb;13(1):6-21. Review.

Nehlig A, Debry G.Effects of coffee and caffeine on fertility, reproduction, lactation, and development. Review of human and animal data. J Gynecol Obstet Biol Reprod (Paris). 1994;23(3):241-56. Review. French.

Olthof MR, Hollman PC, Zock PL, Katan MB. Consumption of high doses of chlorogenic acid, present in coffee, or of black tea increases plasma total homocysteine concentrations in humans.

Pirich C, O'Grady J, Sinzinger H. Coffee, lipoproteins and cardiovascular disease. Wien Klin Wochenschr. 1993;105(1):3-6.

Rogers PJ, Dernoncourt C. Regular caffeine consumption: a balance of adverse and beneficial effects for mood and psychomotor performance. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 1998 Apr;59(4):1039-45.

Sanguigni V, Gallu M, Ruffini MP, Strano A. Effects of coffee on serum cholesterol and lipoproteins: the Italian brewing method. Italian Group for the Study of Atherosclerosis and Dismetabolic Diseases, Rome II Center. Eur J Epidemiol. 1995 Feb;11(1):75-8.

Van Dam RM, Feskens EJ.; Coffee consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus.Lancet. 2002 Nov 9;360(9344):1477-8.

Verhoef P, Pasman WJ, Van Vliet T, Urgert R, Katan MB.; Contribution of caffeine to the homocysteine-raising effect of coffee: a randomized controlled trial in humans. Am J Clin Nutr. 2002 Dec;76(6):1244-8.

Woolcott CG, King WD, Marrett LD.; Coffee and tea consumption and cancers of the bladder, colon and rectum. Eur J Cancer Prev. 2002 Apr;11(2):137-45.