Benefits in moderate coffee drinking

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And while drinking "more than three cups a day was not associated with harm", states the article, "the beneficial effects were less pronounced, the researchers found".

The researchers assessed data from 201 meta-analyses that examined the associations between coffee consumption and any health outcome in adults, from any country or setting.

Coffee is one of the most commonly consumed drinks worldwide.

Researchers at the University of Southampton in England reviewed 218 previous studies, most of which contained observational research, to help determine the outcomes that coffee consumption has on well-being.

Drinking coffee also was correlated with reduced risk of cognitive disorders, including a 27% lower risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

Coffee was also associated with a lower risk of several cancers, including prostate, endometrial, skin and liver cancer, as well as type 2 diabetes, gallstones and gout, the researchers said.

"As such, even small individual health effects could be important on a population scale".

A recent study has revealed that drinking three to four cups of coffee a day comes with more benefits than harm as far as a person's health is concerned.

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In a related editorial, Eliseo Guallar, MD, MPH, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, warned that doctors should not begin to recommend coffee to help prevent or treat health complications.

For example, the study found high coffee consumption was associated with a 31% increased risk of low birth weight, 22% increase in preterm birth in the first trimester and 46% increased risk of preterm birth in the second trimester.

Lastly, it's important to remember that correlation is not causation (i.e., there could be other qualities or behaviors that heavy coffee drinkers have, leading to improved health). We simply do not know.

"The evidence is so robust and consistent across studies and health outcomes, however, that we can be reassured that drinking coffee is generally safe, although some caveats apply". Should people start drinking coffee for health reasons?

The authors conclude that coffee drinking "seems safe within usual patterns of consumption, except during pregnancy and in women at increased risk of fracture".

Tom Sanders, emeritus professor of nutrition and dietetics at King's College London, said: "While the conclusion is reassuring to coffee consumers, there are some limitations".

"Patients with abnormal heart rhythms are often advised to drink decaffeinated coffee".

Although the results of the study are nothing short of promising, the public is cautioned about increasing their intake of coffee for the goal of becoming healthier as it is exclusively based on observational research.