Is Coffee Drinking Good For You?

See what Wall Street Journal says about coffee drinking

• Coffee. Studies show that coffee can ward off depression, Alzheimer’s disease, type 2 diabetes and sleepiness—which makes it one of the most powerful preventive treatments. Workers who drink java are also more productive and pleasant. While many offices have coffee makers, some employers—most notably those affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—continue to deny workers this essential benefit. All employers should have to provide workers with freshly brewed coffee. Oh, and workers must also be able to choose the kind of coffee regardless of the price.

What WebMD says about Coffee Drinking:

Coffee may taste good and get you going in the morning, but what will it do for your health?

A growing body of research shows that coffee drinkers, compared to nondrinkers, are:

Less likely to have type 2 diabetes, Parkinson's disease, and dementia.
Have fewer cases of certain cancers, heart rhythm problems, and strokes.

“There is certainly much more good news than bad news, in terms of coffee and health,” says Frank Hu, MD, MPH, PhD, nutrition and epidemiology professor at the Harvard School of Public Health.

But (you knew there would be a “but,” didn’t you?) coffee isn't proven to prevent those conditions.

Best buy cafe

Researchers don't ask people to drink or skip coffee for the sake of science. Instead, they ask them about their coffee habits. Those studies can't show cause and effect. It's possible that coffee drinkers have other advantages, such as better diets, more exercise, or protective genes.

So there isn't solid proof. But there are signs of potential health perks -- and a few cautions.

If you're like the average American, who downed 416 8-ounce cups of coffee in 2009 (by the World Resources Institute's estimates), you might want to know what all that java is doing for you, or to you.

The Daily Mail (UK) says:

Coffee is good for you: Women who drink four or more cups a day are less likely to be depressed

They have discovered that women who drink four or more cups a day are a fifth less likely to become depressed.

And those who drink between two or three reduce their risk by 15 per cent.

Researchers at Harvard University compared the coffee intake and risk of depression amongst nearly 51,000 women over ten years.

They did not look at men – but other studies have found it has a similar effect.

The scientists, whose findings are published in the Journal of American  Medicine Association, think that caffeine works like antidepressant pills by  stopping the production of certain hormones such as serotonin.

They also say it improves our feelings of well-being and gives us more energy over long periods.

The researchers also asked the women how much tea they drank, chocolate bars they ate each day, their alcohol consumption and whether they did exercise.

They found that coffee had the strongest influence reducing depression – but the decaf variety didn’t work at all.

Wait There's more....

Coffee linked with lower depression risk in women

Women who drink 4 cups of coffee a day are 20 percent less likely to become depressed than women who rarely drink coffee.

By Julie Steenhuysen, ReutersTue, Sep 27 2011 at 11:39 AM EST

woman drinking coffee

CAFFEINE: Drinking coffee offers a boost of energy and a lift in well-being. Caffeine is the most frequently used central nervous system stimulant in the world, and coffee consumption accounts for about 80 percent of caffeine use. (Photo: Ellen Munro/flickr)

CHICAGO - Women who drink four cups of coffee a day are 20 percent less likely to become depressed than women who rarely drink coffee, U.S. researchers said on Monday.

Caffeine is the most frequently used central nervous system stimulant in the world, and coffee consumption accounts for about 80 percent of caffeine use.

Drinking coffee offers a boost of energy and a lift in well-being, said Alberto Ascherio of Harvard School of Public Health.

"This short-term effect is what drives the consumption of caffeine," said Ascherio, whose study appears in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

"Here we are looking at long-term chronic use of caffeinated coffee," Ascherio said in a telephone interview.

His team studied more than 50,000 women enrolled in a health study of nurses. The women had an average age of 63, and none were depressed when they enrolled in the study.

Ascherio's team measured coffee consumption based on data on the women for 14 years dating back to 1976. They then classified the women according to how much coffee they drank and followed them for an additional 10 years.

"We found that those women who regularly drink four or more cups of coffee a day have 20 percent lower risk of developing depression than those who rarely or never drink coffee," Ascherio said.

The team focused specifically on coffee, but they had similar findings when they looked at overall caffeine consumption, including caffeinated soft drinks and chocolate. They found that women who were in the top fifth of caffeine consumption had a 20 percent lower risk of depression than women in the bottom fifth.

The team built a two-year gap or latency period between when they measured caffeine consumption and their assessment for depression to make sure they were not just capturing women who were too depressed to be regular coffee drinkers.

Ascherio said there have been very few studies that look at the long-term effects of coffee consumption. One smaller study in Finland showed men who drank a lot of coffee were less likely to commit suicide.

And Ascherio's own team has shown that drinking a lot of coffee may be protective against Parkinson's disease in both men and women.

He said it is not yet clear how coffee might protect against depression, but there are some hints.

Animal studies have shown that caffeine protects against certain neurotoxins. And brain receptors that respond to caffeine are concentrated in the basal ganglia, an area that is important for both depression and Parkinson's disease.

Ascherio said low-dose, chronic stimulation of these receptors may make them more efficient.

He stressed that the study does not prove that coffee lowers depression risk — only that it might be protective against depression in some way.

And many more studies will be needed to show whether coffee can be used to prevent depression, Ascherio said.