Lots of speculation circulate about our beloved cup of joe. But what is true, and what is not? We decided to find out
Coffee consumption: There are fewer things in life that gain as much media attention, and lead to so many discussions, especially in Sweden where caffeine is a hot topic of conversation. Opinions on whether or not it is good for us or dangerous can often differ greatly, leaving people confused and unsure what to believe.
We all love coffee, so much so that many of us think of it as a drink made in heaven. How many times have you enjoyed a warm cup of coffee while working by your computer, drafting an important email or when playing table games? But is it really bad for you?
Epidemiologically speaking, coffee seems to be pure medicine
Epidemiological studies are studies where you follow people over time, without changing anything in their lifestyle. The most common arrangement is when you ask people about what they eat and what living standards they have. You then watch these people over many years to see if any of their habits correlate with an increased or decreased risk of diseases.
Though there’s a lot to say about the advantages and disadvantages of epidemiology, I will mention that the biggest flaw is that these studies are rarely used to show a true “cause and effect”. “Thus it is usually not possible to say that one thing causes another with these studies,” writes Jacob Gudiol, a diet expert from the site ‘Tyngre’ in Sweden.
There are a lot of Epidemiological studies on coffee and health, and almost every one highlight a very positive image. For example, a meta-analysis last year found that those who drank between three to five cups of coffee each day had a lower risk of cardiovascular disease compared to those who drank both less and more. A cup in this case is about 1.5 dl of coffee, and the positive effects are seen mostly at about 5-7.5 cups of coffee per day.
Another meta-analysis from 2014 looked at the risk of premature death overall. In cases where the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer had developed, the study found that a couple of cups a day had a positive effect, while many cups proved to be pretty neutral.
A typical comparison here is pesticides, which in large doses are bad, but in small doses are completely harmless – and in some studies even positive. Though many people are still terrified of it, because they think if a large amount is harmful, then a small amount is bad too, just less potent.