Are there any Health Benefits to Drinking Coffee?

That’s right. Yet another coffee blog. But this time, I want to talk about what no one in this class has explored: whether or not DRINKING COFFEE is GOOD FOR YOU. I became interested in this topic after realizing how much coffee I’d been drinking lately. While part of me thought, “This is definitely very bad for my health,” my optimistic self hoped: “Maybe it’s not so bad. Maybe there ARE benefits to this habit.” A thought that was born out of sheer despair, but perhaps has some validity to it.

Are there health advantages to drinking coffee?

I’m going to attempt to answer this highly enticing question: are there any health benefits to drinking coffee? (In a previous blog, I discussed the negative impacts of caffeine consumption. For argument’s sake, I am going to focus primarily on any potential benefits). The null hypothesis would be: there are no health benefits to drinking coffee. And the alternative hypothesis: drinking coffee has health benefits. Let’s take a closer look at some data.

So what is the benefit to drinking ground beans? Coffee is used primarily as a stimulant or energy booster. It can help college students focus during class, and it can fuel your muscles through a workout or simply walking to and from lectures. Obviously, coffee provides very valuable short-term benefits, but can it actually fortify your health?


Mean coffee consumption in NHS, NHS 2, AND HPFS over follow up period

Mean coffee consumption in NHS, NHS 2, AND HPFS over follow up period

While coffee hasn’t been shown to give users physical benefits (e.g. stronger muscles, better hair, more handsome, etc.), it has been “associated with lower risk of total mortality,” according to the results of one study. A team of researchers conducted a longitudinal, observational study beginning in 1984. Subjects were examined in 3 groups NHS (Nurses’ Health Study), HPFS (Health Professionals Follow-up Study), and NHS 2. They self-reported the amount of total coffee consumption, both caffeinated and decaffeinated. Results came back from 200,000 men and women throughout their lifetime. After 4,690,072 “person-years” of tracking the subjects, over 19,000 women and over 12,000 men died.

The researchers found that, although the relationship between coffee consumption and mortality was non-linear, consuming between 1 and 5 cups of coffee was associated with a lower risk of mortality. To that end, neurological diseases, cardiovascular diseases, and suicide displayed noteworthy inverse relationships with coffee consumption. In other words, the more coffee subjects drank, the less likely they were to commit suicide. The study, entitled Association of Coffee Consumption with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality in Three Large Prospective Cohorts,” also listed other diseases inversely associated with coffee consumption including liver cancer, lethal prostate cancer, and type 2 diabetes. 

So although coffee won’t give you superpowers, drinking these liquified beans might be in the best interest of your health. And while the study was rather inconclusive, researchers have reason to speculate that drinking more coffee could reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Because of the inverse relationship between coffee consumption and aforementioned diseases (p-value: 0.022), we can effectively reject the null hypothesis, that any benefits from coffee drinking is due to chance.

I expected there to be tangible health benefits from my research, but the results of the study were sufficient for my curiosity. According to this study, coffee drinkers have been shown to be less susceptible to certain diseases. My recommendation: drinking between 1-5 cups of coffee per day is ok (2 seems reasonable), but don’t expect your spidey senses to start tingling.

old coffee graphic:

fat spidey:

study used:

2 thoughts on “Are there any Health Benefits to Drinking Coffee?

  1. Jacob Alexander Loffredo

    I found your article very interesting. As a lifelong coffee drinker this blog for sure put a smile on my face, always drinking cup after cup of coffee not knowing whether or not it was good or bad for me was a problem. After reading all of the facts about how it decreases cardiovascular issues and suicide risk I now think that more people should be educated about this topic. I would definitely hypothesize that coffee does not only serve as a health benefit but also increases performance with in the classroom so Here is a awesome video supporting my hypothesis that coffee does indeed make you smarter.

  2. Matthew O'Brien

    After reading the title of your post, i assumed you would just be following in the footsteps of dozens of the coffee related posts that have preceded yours. Fortunately, yours was quite insightful and well-presented! I thought that the idea of coffee benefits being non-linear was especially noteworthy. You made it clear that while there are benefits of drinking coffee, they diminish when more than a few cups are consumed. Establishing a range (2-5) gave your post a very practical take-home message that we can apply to our own coffee consumption habits.

    Some notes:

    I think that the experiment that you referenced (which happened to start 3 decades ago) was rather vague and subject to the effects of unmentioned confounding variables. Perhaps non-coffee drinkers substitute it with unhealthy beverages, thus explaining the life span difference? This certainly cannot be ruled out by your post.

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