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The media is fond of publishing stories about the harmful effects of food and drink on our body, and then the following week reporting on a study that shows the benefits of the same substance. Coffee is no exception. So what are the pros and cons of drinking the nation’s favorite beverage?
On the plus side, medical studies have revealed that coffee drinkers are less likely to develop certain forms of cancer. In America, 40,000 men took part in a 20-year study to monitor their health.
One of the findings that emerged was that men who drank six or more cups of coffee in a day were 20% less likely to develop prostate cancer than their counterparts who drank less. A similar study of women came to the conclusion that those who never or rarely drank coffee were more likely to develop breast cancer or ovarian cancer. Other benefits of drinking coffee include:
— A reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Scientists believe that caffeine can stem the buildup of a protein in the brain that inhibits clear thinking.
— Less likelihood of developing Type 2 diabetes. By drinking only four cups of coffee a day, men can reduce their risk of diabetes by 50% and women by 30%.
— A lower probability of developing Parkinson’s disease. You are six times less likely to develop the disease if you regularly drink coffee.
— Coffee can assist in weight loss. Caffeine acts as a stimulant that gives you more energy and speeds up the burning of fat during exercise.
— Coffee is full of antioxidants, which are good for your general well being and act as an anti-depressant.
Before you reach for another cup, you should have a look at the potential negative impacts coffee can have on your body. If you have a history of heart disease or strokes in the family, then cut back on your coffee intake immediately. Coffee acts as a stimulant, increasing your heart rate and your blood pressure, as well as interfering with the body’s ability to control cholesterol. None of this is good news for people with a history of either in their family.
In the same way that coffee is bad for heart diseases sufferers, it can also interfere with a woman’s fertility for exactly the same reasons. Drinking a cup of coffee a day can reduce a woman’s ability to conceive by 50%. Drinking two or three cups a day can double the likelihood of pregnant women suffering a miscarriage. Therefore, if you are looking to get pregnant or already are you should cut out as much or stay away from caffeine completely. Other negative impacts of coffee include:
— Insomnia, particularly if coffee is drunk late at night. Coffee acts as a stimulant, meaning it is harder to fall asleep. Great news if you work nights but not such great news if you need a good night’s sleep.
— Dehydration. Coffee absorbs water from the body, leaving you thirsty. The worst thing you can do is reach for another cup. Better to drink a glass of water to quench your thirst and rehydrate your body.
— Digestive problems. The chemicals in coffee can increase stomach acid that can lead to stomach pains. Stay off coffee if you suffer from or have suffered from gastritis or ulcers.
— A higher risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, particularly if you are female.
— Too much coffee means too much of the stimulant caffeine, which can contribute to anxiety and higher levels of stress.
Like any beverage drunk in extreme, coffee can be bad for your health. But taken in moderation, it has beneficial effects on your mental and physical well being. Only you can judge whether you are drinking too much coffee and damaging your health instead of improving it.