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Coffee May Lower Risks of Chronic Diseases

by Mahmmod Shar

Eglė Krištopaitytė

A review of multiple studies suggests that high coffee consumption may reduce the risk of neurological and metabolic diseases and certain cancers.

Coffee is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world. According to a recent survey, 73.9% of Americans drink coffee daily, with the majority consuming two or more cups.

In the review published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, researchers at Texas A&M University looked at studies examining the health benefits of coffee. Previous research has associated higher consumption of coffee with reduced mortality and lower risk of neurological and metabolic diseases, including type 2 diabetes.

“There is also evidence that higher coffee consumption is associated with lower rates of colon and rectal cancer, as well as breast, endometrial and other cancers, although there are conflicting reports on its benefit for some of these cancers,” says Stephen Safe, Ph.D., a coauthor of the review paper.

A 2022 study using the UK Biobank data from more than 395,000 individuals who were followed up for 11.8 years on average looked at overall disease-specific mortality. The study associated drinking four or more cups of coffee daily with a reduced risk of 30 diseases, especially in the cardiometabolic and gastrointestinal systems and those related to alcohol use and estrogen regulation.

Multiple studies, including one using the UK Biobank data, found that high coffee consumption was associated with reduced risks of neurological disorders, including dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s disease. However, the review authors note that further research is necessary.

Despite possible preventative benefits, another literature review suggests that heavy coffee consumption may lead to an earlier onset of Huntington’s disease, an inherited disorder causing nerve cells in certain parts of the brain to break down and die gradually.

Studies suggest that the higher consumption of coffee may reduce the risk of metabolic diseases and type 2 diabetes. For example, an analysis of plasma biomarkers indicated that those consuming four or more cups of coffee daily exhibited lower inflammatory markers levels than nondrinkers.

Previous studies showed that rheumatoid arthritis patients who consumed coffee had lower metabolic syndrome scores. In addition, increased consumption of coffee with and without caffeine was shown to protect against nonalcoholic fatty liver disease severity in individuals with type 2 diabetes.

“The mechanisms associated with the chemopreventive or chemotherapeutic effects of over 1,000 individual compounds in roasted coffee are complex and may vary with different diseases. “- Robert Chapkin, Ph.D., University Distinguished Professor and Allen Endowed Chair in the Department of Nutrition and Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics.

The reviewed studies indicate that the overall effects of coffee consumption were more pronounced in women than men. Coffee more effectively reduced the risk of functional digestive disorders and diabetes in women, whereas men were more protected from gout, a very painful form of inflammatory arthritis.

Moreover, coffee consumption was associated with lower risks for coronary heart disease in women than in men. The beverage was also found to be more effective in improving depression and Parkinson’s disease in women than in men.

The researchers say that the mechanisms of action of coffee are complex and dependent on the effects of its constituents, such as chlorogenic acids, polyphenolics, and other phytochemicals.

“We also found evidence that the antioxidant activity of coffee, which activates the nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2, or Nrf2, may be an important mechanism of action,” Davidson says. “But since Nrf2 exhibits both health-protective and drug-resistant activities, other cell context-dependent factors may also be important.”

While higher consumption of coffee may have health benefits, the beverage cannot replace medicines and healthy lifestyle choices in treating and preventing chronic diseases.

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