Two studies on drinking coffee indicate actual health benefits

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 July, 2012, 12:00am

Good news, coffee addicts: two recent published studies give you more excuses to have a java jolt more than once a day. Coffee consumption has been found to not only lower one's risk of developing the most common form of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma, but also reduce one's risk of heart failure.

But just how much should you drink? The first study, published in Cancer Research in Britain, does not set a limit. 'Our results indicate that the more caffeinated coffee you consume, the lower your risk of developing basal cell carcinoma,' says Han Jiali, the study's lead researcher and associate professor at Harvard Medical School.

The study analysed data of nearly 113,000 people tracked over more than 20 years. An inverse association was seen between coffee consumption and intake of caffeine (from coffee, tea, cola and chocolate) and risk of basal cell carcinoma. But consumption of decaffeinated coffee didn't produce the same link.

Han says other conditions that have an inverse relationship with increasing coffee consumption include Parkinson's disease and type 2 diabetes. But, he adds, 'I would not recommend increasing your coffee intake based on these data alone.'

The second study advises moderate coffee consumption - four Northern European servings per day, or about two typical 237ml American servings - may significantly lower risk of heart failure by as much as 11 per cent. Indulging, however, may be linked with an increased chance of developing serious heart problems.

Researchers from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre in Boston analysed previous studies on the link between coffee intake and heart failure in this study, published in Circulation Heart Failure.

Combined, the studies included 6,522 heart failure events among 140,220 men and women. There was, however, no indication on brew strength and differentiation between caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee.

'There are many factors that play into a person's risk of heart failure, but moderate coffee consumption doesn't appear to be one of them,' says Elizabeth Mostofsky, lead study author. 'This is good news for coffee drinkers, of course, but it also may warrant changes to the current heart failure prevention guidelines, which suggest coffee drinking may be risky for heart patients. It now appears that a couple of cups of coffee per day may actually help protect against heart failure.'