Say No to Joe?

Coffee has been a beloved beverage for generations, but only recently has it been widely recognized for its presumed health benefits. These benefits should be said to be presumed, rather than proven, because most studies of coffee have examined groups of people who are already coffee drinkers. While these studies have found that drinking coffee is associated with a number of healthy outcomes — including lower rates of Type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer disease, and cardiovascular disease — there may be an explanation for these outcomes other than coffee consumption, such as a generally healthier lifestyle among people who choose to drink coffee.

One recent study, however, looked at subjects that weren’t already coffee drinkers: laboratory mice. Published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, the study examined the effects of a compound found in coffee called chlorogenic acid (CGA). As one of the study’s authors notes in an article posted by the Western Australian Institute for Medical Research, where the study was conducted, CGA was previously thought to be associated with health benefits, including greater insulin sensitivity, lower blood pressure, and less accumulation of body fat. In this study, researchers fed CGA to mice with diet-induced obesity, expecting that the CGA might lessen some of the harmful effects of obesity and perhaps even result in weight loss. The dosage was meant to approximate 5–6 cups of coffee per day in a human. The result was quite unexpected: obese mice who were fed CGA actually had more insulin resistance than those who weren’t fed CGA, as well as lower glucose tolerance, a fattier liver, and greater retention of fat within cells. It is unclear how, exactly, this result might help inform choices among humans. It may be the case that coffee has harmful effects only in people who are already obese, or it could be that coffee is beneficial up to a certain point (say, 4 cups) but harmful in excess of this level.


The evidence in favor of coffee should not be discounted. A study presented last year at the World Congress on Prevention of Diabetes and Its Complications found that moderate coffee consumption (3–4 cups daily) may reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes by up to 25%. This effect was seen regardless of whether coffee was regular or decaffeinated. And another study, published last year in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, found that the caffeine from 3 cups of coffee each day may help prevent the progression of mild memory loss into Alzheimer disease among older adults.

What’s your take on coffee — do you drink it, or avoid it, because of what you perceive as its health benefits or health risks? Have you started or stopped drinking coffee and noticed any difference in your health as a result? In your view, do some of coffee’s presumed benefits — such as Alzheimer prevention — outweigh any risks that it may also pose? Leave a comment below!

  • leticia

    my parents drank coffee all their life, two cups of coffee a day, my dad got diabetes type 2 in his 50s. my mom type 1 diabetes when she was also in her early 50s, both drank coffee black no sugar no flavors of any kinds, so why is it that they contracted diabetes?, neither ones parents or relatives had diabetes, they both pass away, my dad of massive heart attack, he was 62, my mom pass away for complications, had also heart attack, had surgery and had a stroke when she was having an open heart surgery, the surgery was good but the stroke put her in coma and eventually die a year later, complications of not moving and her diabetes eventually kill her. now why if they where coffee drinkers they got diabetes?, i think that all these studies are a waist of time and money, they should look for a cure, PLEASE, there is too many of us suffering of this disease, yes i have diabetes type 2 and so is 2 brothers and 3 sisters, we are coffee drinkers too, should we stop?

  • JohnC

    I vote for the coffee!

    At last count it is supposed to be good for you and it is a free (carb) food. Over the years I have tried decaffeinated and fooled with various amounts. Not a lot of difference except at night — I like to sleep :)

    Sitting here reading this and enjoying a nice dark roast — life is good.

    Don’t care what is ‘discovered’ I’m sticking with it until my body tells me different.

  • Ferne

    I drink 2 mugs of regular coffee a day and I will continue to drink it.

  • jim snell

    Here again, science is winging around the wrong planet and orbit lost in space.

    Thanks to a unique situation of dawn phen hammering my body in past, for me it became clear that as my liver larded up my skeletal muscles up with glucose every morning, my insulin resistance headed to max.

    Every day in am my insulin resistance was max and 26 units of 75/25 did nothing. After walking 2 miles; I would see my insulin resistance drop and see BG drop back to 140 and less. 1/34 mile nothing and in last 1/4 mile of 2 miles walking; BG would start dropping fast.

    Science is blind in my mind and simply refuses to acknowledge that insulin resistance is how the body prevents the skeletal muscle/fat cells from poisoning themselves overloading glucose into the finite limited storage space of these cells. Insulin resistance is not some other rare reason cells will not take on more glucose but in fact a natural flow control method in a distributed storage system to cut off insulin receptors on cells no longer needing more insulin.

    I remain frustrated over such narrow minded idiocy.

  • jim snell

    My last statement had the wrong word:

    needing more insulin.

    should read:

    needing more glucose.

    my apologies.