Coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world. Brewed from the ground beans of the Coffea arabica and Coffea canephora (also known as Coffea robusta), coffee is somewhat acidic and (in its natural state) contains caffeine. Perhaps because of its ubiquity in the adult American diet, coffee is a popular subject for health research.
One aspect of research that seems unchangeable is that conflicting claims are often made about the health effects of various diet modifications. Media outlets report on each headline as if it is the last word on the subject; headlines often give little clue as to the practical implications of the research cited. Just for fun, the Allentown Health Examiner takes a look at whether coffee is good or bad for one's health.
Limiting the search to recent coffee news (published in the past month or two) in journals indexed by the National Library of Medicine, one finds three studies that claim to answer the question about coffee and disease or death.
First is the issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings (August 15, 2013) that tells us that "a positive association between coffee consumption and all-cause mortality in men and in men and women younger than 55 years." The journal authors proceed to advise that "younger people avoid heavy coffee consumption, i.e., averaging four cups a day." However, the authors hedge their bet and recommend further research in "future studies of other populations.
Turning to the October 2013 issue of Heart, the journal of the British Cardiac Society, one finds less cause for concern. Scientists publishing in this journal report that "caffeine does not increase the risk of atrial fibrillation." Basing their conclusion on a review and meta-analysis of previously published studies, the researchers even assert that "low-dose caffeine may have a protective effect."
Finally, in the October 2013 issue of Current Cardiology Reports, researchers set high stakes by entitling their article "Coffee consumption and cardiovascular health: Getting to the heart of the matter." Ah, yes. Now it will all become clear. And the winner is ... coffee! Two scientists from the National University of Singapore cautiously state, "in meta-analyses of recent well-controlled prospective epidemiologic studies, coffee consumption was not associated with risk or coronary heart disease and weakly associated with a lower risk of stroke and heart failure." The researchers continue to state, "available evidence largely suggests that coffee consumption is not associated with a higher risk of fatal cardiovascular events."
So there we have it -- at least until next time.