Coffee is one of the world's most popular drinks, enjoyed by millions of people every day. Unsurprisingly, it has come under much public scrutiny. Is coffee safe to be consumed?
Will it cause illnesses? Can it protect us from diseases? These questions, and more, have been extensively researched in the scientific arena for a long time.
In this article, let's look at the potential effects of coffee on Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and cancers.
Reduces risk of Alzheimer's disease?
Alzheimer's disease is a condition that affects the function of the brain. People with Alzheimer's disease often have problems remembering things, making decisions and understanding languages. They may also show changes in their behaviour. This condition commonly affects people over 60 years old.
The cause of Alzheimer's disease is not entirely known yet, but is thought to include both genetic and environmental factors. So far we do not have a cure for it.
Several studies have suggested that coffee consumption may be able to reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease.
A population-based study found that middle-aged coffee drinkers had a lower risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer's disease later in life. The lowest risk was found in people who drank three to five cups a day.
These findings open up the interesting possibilities of the potential role of coffee in reducing the risk of Alzheimer's disease.
Protects from Parkinson's disease?
Parkinson's disease is a disorder of the brain that causes shaking (tremors) and hampers movement and coordination. It most often develops after the age of 50, although sometimes it can occur in younger adults. To date, there is no known cure for Parkinson's disease.
Since 1968, scientists have known that coffee drinking is related to a lower risk of Parkinson's disease.
More recently, a meta-analysis (which evaluated 13 published studies) suggested that coffee drinkers had 30% less chance of developing Parkinson's disease in later life.
Some studies suggest that this could be due to certain substances in coffee that help protect the nerve cells in the body from damage.
What about cancer?
An expert report, collaboratively published by the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research, stated that it is unlikely that coffee drinking has any substantial effect on increasing or decreasing the risk of cancer of either the pancreas or the kidney.
On the other hand, evidence from large scale population studies suggests that coffee drinking is associated with a lower risk of liver, kidney, and to a lesser extent, colorectal and premenopausal breast cancers.
It is possible that substances contained in coffee, such as caffeine, diterpenes, caffeic acid, polyphenols, and various volatile aromatic and heterocyclic compounds play a role in reducing the risks of these cancers.
More studies are still needed to support previous findings on the beneficial effects of coffee consumption. However, it has been established that three to five cups a day is safe for adults.
So enjoy your coffee in moderation!