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It's official: Coffee is good for you (but not too much, now)

Three or four cups a day leads to the greatest benefit, according to the study.

Image: Shutterstock/weedezign

DRINKING COFFEE IS “more likely to benefit health than to harm it”, research in the British Medical Journal has claimed.

Researchers brought together evidence from over 200 studies and found that drinking three to four cups a day was associated with a lower risk of death and getting heart disease compared with drinking no coffee.

It was also associated with lower risk of some cancers, diabetes, liver disease and dementia.

However, researchers said drinking it during pregnancy may be associated with harms, and may be linked to a very small increased risk of fractures in women.

According to the report: “The included studies used mainly observational data, providing lower quality evidence, so no firm conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect, but their findings back up other recent reviews and studies of coffee intake.

“As such, they say, excluding pregnancy and women at risk of fracture, “coffee drinking appears safe within usual patterns of consumption” and they suggest that coffee could be safely tested in randomised trials.”

A team led by Dr Robin Poole from the University of Southampton carried out a review of 201 studies that had brought together research from 17 studies.

Drinking coffee was consistently associated with a lower risk of death from all causes and from heart disease, with the largest reduction in relative risk of death at three cups a day, compared with non-coffee drinkers. Increasing consumption to above three cups a day was not associated with harm, but the beneficial effect was less pronounced.

Coffee was also associated with a lower risk of several cancers, including prostate, endometrial, skin and liver cancer, as well as type 2 diabetes, gallstones and gout. The greatest benefit was seen for liver conditions, such as cirrhosis of the liver.

There was less evidence for the effects of drinking decaffeinated coffee but it had similar benefits for a number of outcomes.

Eliseo Guallar at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health said, although we can be reassured that coffee intake is generally safe, doctors should not recommend drinking coffee to prevent disease – and people should not start drinking coffee for health reasons.

The study added: “Some people may be at higher risk of adverse effects and there is “substantial uncertainty” about the effects of higher levels of intake. Finally, coffee is often consumed with products rich in refined sugars and unhealthy fats, and these may independently contribute to adverse health outcomes.

“Moderate coffee consumption seems remarkably safe, and it can be incorporated as part of a healthy diet by most of the adult population.”

Read: Independent Alliance won’t be travelling to North Korea >

Read: Three Irish authors shortlisted for major UK book award >

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