Health and Science Viewpoints

Coffee: Pros and Cons

Source: Emily Savino

If the aroma of freshly brewed coffee wafting about your kitchen motivates you to get out of bed in the morning, you are not alone. In fact, according to the National Coffee Association about 68% of Americans claim to be addicted to coffee. However, there are both advantages and disadvantages that should be considered before becoming a coffee enthusiast.

Coffee can boost physical performance and increase adrenaline – the “fight or flight” response – levels in the blood. Coffee can help people lose weight by reducing the craving for sugary treats and snacks. Although coffee has many other uses, High school students often seek comfort in coffee and the accompanying caffeine boost it provides as a remedy to chronic lack of sleep; students drink coffee to help stay focused and alert.

According to Eating Well Magazine, moderate coffee drinkers that drink one to three cups of coffee per day are less likely to experience a stroke than non-coffee drinkers. This is because coffee increases the amount of antioxidants in the body. Nevertheless, increase in antioxidant levels from coffee can also cause inflammation in the arteries of the body.

Several studies have also found that coffee may potentially reduce the instance of liver disease and even liver cancer. In addition, drinking coffee can potentially help prevent type 2 diabetes and Parkinson’s disease.

Studies have shown that by drinking more than one to three cups of coffee per day, one cannot reap that health benefits that come with moderate coffee drinking. In fact, consuming five or more cups of coffee leads to increased risk for heart disease, not to mention all of the trips to the restroom.

Coffee can also cause insomnia and restlessness. Caffeine is a powerful stimulant which affects everyone differently. Some people are left relatively unaffected and others can be found counting sheep into the wee hours of the morning. The recommended maximum amount of caffeine is 400 milligrams, which is the equivalent of about three to four cups of coffee.

Despite thorough research around the world, experts still do not agree on the addictive nature of caffeine. “There’s no question, caffeine is addictive for some people. Caffeine produces dependence and caffeine withdrawal is a real syndrome,” says Roland R. Griffiths, professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

George Koob, PhD, professor at The Scripps Research Institute in San Diego, disagrees. “While it is possible to be addicted, most people are not,” he says. He is more worried about the addictive nature of other drugs and alcohol.

Regardless of debate over the effects of coffee, most scientists agree that children, teens and the elderly may feel the adverse effects of caffeine more pointedly than others. Experts find consensus that while coffee consumption alone may not be a cause for concern, caffeine abuse is an emerging problem, especially in the teen population.