Coffee's Numerous Health Benefits Detailed in New Analysis

Published November 27, 2017 by New England Journal of Medicine JOURNAL WATCH 

By Amy Orciari Herman

Edited by Susan Sadoughi, MD, and André Sofair, MD, MPH

Coffee consumption — in particular, several cups daily — is associated with a wide range of health benefits, according to an umbrella review of meta-analyses in The BMJ.

The review included over 200 meta-analyses of observational or interventional research into coffee consumption and health outcomes in adults. Among the benefits:

  • Daily consumption of 3 cups of coffee — regular or decaffeinated — was associated with a 17% lower risk for all-cause mortality, relative to no coffee consumption.

  • Caffeinated coffee was linked to lower risks for cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, and stroke, with benefits highest at 3–5 cups daily.

  • Caffeinated coffee was associated with lower risks for cancer and liver conditions.

  • Both regular and decaf coffee appeared to lower risk for type 2 diabetes.

In terms of harms, high coffee consumption in pregnancy was tied to pregnancy loss, low birth weight, and preterm birth. High consumption was also associated with higher fracture risk in women, but not men.

An editorialist writes: "The evidence is so robust and consistent ... that we can be reassured that drinking coffee is generally safe." He adds, however, that pregnant women and those at high fracture risk should be educated about possible adverse effects.

Eamonn Vitt