Magic Beverage - Coffee, Part 2


Coffee consumption may reduce the risk of all-cause and cardiac mortality

BACKGROUND: Coffee consumption has been linked to various beneficial and detrimental health effects, but data on its relation with mortality are sparse. OBJECTIVE: To assess the association between coffee consumption and mortality from cardiovascular disease (CVD), cancer, and all causes during 18 years of follow-up in men and 24 years of follow-up in women. DESIGN: Sex-specific Cox proportional hazard models were used to investigate the association between coffee consumption and incidence of all-cause and disease-specific mortality in a prospective cohort study. SETTING: Health Professionals Follow-up Study and Nurses' Health Study. PARTICIPANTS: 41,736 men and 86,214 women with no history of CVD or cancer at baseline. MEASUREMENTS: Coffee consumption was assessed first in 1986 for men and in 1980 for women and then every 2 to 4 years through 2004. Investigators documented 6888 deaths (2049 due to CVD and 2491 due to cancer) among men and 11,095 deaths (2368 due to CVD and 5011 due to cancer) among women. RESULTS: After adjustment for age, smoking, and other CVD and cancer risk factors, the relative risks for all-cause mortality in men across categories of coffee consumption (<1 cup per month, 1 cup per month to 4 cups per week, 5 to 7 cups per week, 2 to 3 cups per day, 4 to 5 cups per day, and>or=6 cups per day) were 1.0, 1.07 (95% CI, 0.99 to 1.16), 1.02 (CI, 0.95 to 1.11), 0.97 (CI, 0.89 to 1.05), 0.93 (CI, 0.81 to 1.07), and 0.80 (CI, 0.62 to 1.04), respectively (P for trend = 0.008). For women, the relative risks were 1.0, 0.98 (CI, 0.91 to 1.05), 0.93 (CI, 0.87 to 0.98), 0.82 (CI, 0.77 to 0.87), 0.74 (CI, 0.68 to 0.81), and 0.83 (CI, 0.73 to 0.95), respectively (P for trend<0.001). This inverse association was mainly due to a moderately reduced risk for CVD mortality and was independent of caffeine intake. By contrast, coffee consumption was not statistically significantly associated with risk for cancer death after adjustment for potential confounders. Decaffeinated coffee consumption was associated with a small reduction in all-cause and CVD mortality. LIMITATION: Coffee consumption was estimated from self-report; thus, some measurement error is inevitable. CONCLUSION: Regular coffee consumption was not associated with an increased mortality rate in either men or women. The possibility of a modest benefit of coffee consumption on all-cause and CVD mortality needs to be further investigated.


Abstract Source: Ann Intern Med. 2008 Jun 17;148(12):904-14. PMID: 18559841



Consumption of coffee during pregnancy was associated with a higher risk of fetal death, especially losses occurring after 20 completed weeks of gestation

The authors conducted a cohort study within the Danish National Birth Cohort to determine whether coffee consumption during pregnancy is associated with late fetal death (spontaneous abortion and stillbirth). A total of 88,482 pregnant women recruited from March 1996 to November 2002 participated in a comprehensive interview on coffee consumption and potentially confounding factors in pregnancy. Information on pregnancy outcome was obtained from the National Hospital Discharge Register and medical records. The authors detected 1,102 fetal deaths. High levels of coffee consumption were associated with an increased risk of fetal death. Relative to nonconsumers of coffee, the adjusted hazard ratios for fetal death associated with coffee consumption of 1/2-3, 4-7, and>or =8 cups of coffee per day were 1.03 (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.89, 1.19), 1.33 (95% CI: 1.08, 1.63), and 1.59 (95% CI: 1.19, 2.13), respectively. Reverse causation due to unrecognized fetal demise may explain the association between coffee intake and risk of fetal death prior to 20 completed weeks' gestation but not the association with fetal loss following 20 completed weeks' gestation. Consumption of coffee during pregnancy was associated with a higher risk of fetal death, especially losses occurring after 20 completed weeks of gestation.


Abstract Source: Am J Epidemiol. 2005 Nov 15;162(10):983-90. Epub 2005 Oct 5. PMID: 16207803

Coffee consumption (decaffeinated and caffeinated) results in lowered organ weight and behavioral changes in offspring

Offspring of rats fed coffee during pregnancy had reduced body, liver, and brain weight at birth. By 30 days postnatally these animals had recovered in size but exhibited increased locomotion, decreased grooming time, and decreased time spent with a novel object. Offspring of dams fed decaffeinated coffee demonstrated reduced liver weight at birth and similar behavioral characteristics at 30 days of age.


Abstract Source: J Nutr. 1982 Apr ;112(4):829-32. PMID: 7069517


Drinking Coffee Kills Pain, Lifts Mood and Sharpens the Mind

New clinical research confirms why office work and coffee go so closely hand in hand. The new study published in the journal BMC Research Notes found that drinking coffee reduces the development of pain during computer work.

Study participants who had consumed coffee (1/2-1 cup) on average 1 hour and 18 minutes before performing a simulated computer office-work task found to provoke pain in the neck, shoulders, forearms and wrists, were found to have "attenuated pain development compared with the subjects who had abstained from coffee intake."

While the researchers attributed the observed effect to the caffeine content in coffee, we believe there is more going on here...

 In a previous post on coffee as both drug and medicine, we looked at the opiate-like properties of an oil-soluble component within both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee called cafestrol which likely acts as a pain-killer. Because the average cup of coffee contains five times the amount required to produce an opioid effect (as measured by ED50), it would appear that the pain-killing effect in coffee is not just about the caffeine.

We don't, of course, delude ourselves into believing that caffeine isn't an important part of the equation. Caffeine has potent analgesic properties, but may not work as well when separated from the complex (and delightful!) chemistries contained within the fermented and roasted coffee bean.


Indeed, another recent coffee study, involving a total of 50,739 women (mean age, 63 years), found that caffeinated, but not decaffeinated coffee, significantly reduced depression risk. So, take out the caffeine, and the characteristic mood-lifting, anti-depressive properties of this beverage may fade into the background, or disappear.



Coffee also has unique nerve-supporting properties. It contains a compound called trigonelline which promotes neurite outgrowth in neurons. A neurite is any projection from the cell body of a neuron, such as axons and dendrites. Trignonelline's extension of these projections may compensate or rescue damaged neuronal networks, and explain why coffee has a truly therapeutic effect on brain health, and cognition-dependent tasks, e.g. computer work.

Coffee also has powerful antioxidant properties and genoprotective properties. This is important, as stress and environmental stressors, e.g. chemicals, may cause increased oxidative stress and even DNA damage, and this will translate into improved neurological health.

For additional research on coffee's health benefits, view our Coffee Research page which contains study abstracts on over 50 health conditions that may benefit from the responsible consumption of this herb.






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Magic Beverage - Coffee



Coffee is a brewed beverage with a distinct aroma and flavor prepared from the roasted seeds of the Coffea plant. The seeds are found in coffee "cherries", which grow on trees cultivated in over 70 countries, primarily in equatorial Latin America, Southeast Asia, South Asia and Africa. Green (unroasted) coffee is one of the most traded agricultural commodities in the world. Coffee is slightly acidic (5.0–5.1 pH) and can have a stimulating effect on humans because of its caffeine content. It is one of the most-consumed beverages in the world.

Wild coffee's energizing effect was likely first discovered in the northeast region of Ethiopia. Coffee cultivation first took place in southern Arabia; the earliest credible evidence of coffee drinking appears in the middle of the 15th century in the Sufi shrines of Yemen.


Scientific studies have examined the relationship between coffee consumption and an array of medical conditions. Findings have been contradictory as to whether coffee has any specific health benefits, and results are similarly conflicting regarding the potentially harmful effects of coffee consumption. Variations in findings can be at least partially resolved by considering the method of preparation.

   Scientific studies

Coffee use is associated with lower levels of fatty liver


The benefits of coffee on abnormal liver biochemistry, cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma have been reported, but there is a lack of satisfactory explanation. Thus, this study aims to investigate if coffee use has any relationship with bright liver, measured by ultrasound bright liver score (BLS), in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), and which relationship, if any, is present with BMI and insulin resistance.


 METHODS: This study was performed on 245 patients, 137 with NAFLD and 108 controls. Coffee drinking was defined according to the absolute number of cups of coffee (only espresso coffee), and also graded as 1 (0 cups of coffee/day), 2 (1-2 cups of coffee/day) 3 (>/=3 cups of coffee/day). Insulin resistance was assessed by homoeostasis model-insulin resistance index (HOMA). RESULTS: Less fatty liver involvement is present in coffee vs. non-coffee drinkers. Odds ratios show that obesity, higher insulin resistance, lower HDL cholesterol, older age and arterial hypertension are associated with a greater risk of more severe BLS; to the contrary, coffee drinking is associated with less severe BLS. In the multiple logistic regression (MLR) model, number of cups of coffee, HOMA and BMI account for 35.8% of the variance to BLS. Coffee use is inversely associated with the degree of bright liver, along with insulin resistance and obesity, which, to the contrary, are directly associated with greater likelihood and severity of bright liver appearance. CONCLUSIONS: A possible opposite, if not antagonistic, role of coffee with regard to overweightness and insulin resistance, similar to that reported in hepatocarcinoma and cirrhosis, is envisaged in the natural history of NAFLD.


Abstract Source: Dig Dis Sci. 2010 Feb 18. Epub 2010 Feb 18. PMID: 20165979

Roasting coffee appears to produce unique compounds not found within coffee which have suppressive effects on UV and chemical mutagens

SOS-inducing activity of UV or chemical mutagens (AF-2, 4NQO and MNNG) was strongly suppressed by instant coffee in Salmonella typhimurium TA1535/pSK1002. As decaffeinated instant coffee showed a similarly strong suppressive effect, it would seem that caffeine, a known inhibitor of SOS responses, is not responsible for the effect observed. The suppression was also shown by freshly brewed coffee extracts. However, the suppression was absent in green coffee-bean extracts. These results suggest that coffee contains some substance(s) which, apart from caffeine, suppresses SOS-inducing activity of UV or chemical mutagens and that the suppressive substance(s) are produced by roasting coffee beans.


Abstract Source: Mutat Res. 1986 Oct ;175(2):47-50. PMID: 3093858



Coffee contains compounds which stimulate dopamine release

Coffee and caffeine are known to affect the limbic system, but data on the influence of coffee and coffee constituents on neurotransmitter release is limited. We investigated dopamine release and Ca(2+)-mobilization in pheochromocytoma cells (PC-12 cells) after stimulation with two lyophilized coffee beverages prepared from either Coffea arabica (AR) or Coffea canephora var. robusta (RB) beans and constituents thereof. Both coffee lyophilizates showed effects in dilutions between 1:100 and 1:10,000. To identify the active coffee compound, coffee constituents were tested in beverage and plasma representative concentrations. Caffeine, trigonelline, N-methylpyridinium, chlorogenic acid, catechol, pyrogallol and 5-hydroxytryptamides increased calcium signaling and dopamine release, although with different efficacies. While N-methylpyridinium stimulated the Ca(2+)-mobilization most potently (EC(200): 0.14±0.29μM), treatment of the cells with pyrogallol (EC(200): 48±14nM) or 5-hydroxytryptamides (EC(200): 10±3nM) lead to the most pronounced effect on dopamine release. In contrast, no effect was seen for the reconstituted biomimetic mixture. We therefore conclude that each of the coffee constituents tested stimulated the dopamine release in PC-12 cells. Since no effect was found for their biomimetic mixture, we hypothesize other coffee constituents being responsible for the dopamine release demonstrated for AR and RB coffee brews.

Abstract Source: Food Chem Toxicol. 2011 Oct 13. Epub 2011 Oct 13. PMID: 22019894

Coffee consumption may have a protective/restorative function on diabetic auditory neuropathy

Coffee is a widely consumed beverage and has recently received considerable attention for its possible beneficial effects. Auditory neuropathy is a hearing disorder characterized by an abnormal auditory brainstem response. This study examined the auditory neuropathy induced by diabetes and investigated the action of coffee, trigonelline, and caffeine to determine whether they improved diabetic auditory neuropathy in mice. Auditory brainstem responses, auditory middle latency responses, and otoacoustic emissions were evaluated to assess auditory neuropathy. Coffee or trigonelline ameliorated the hearing threshold shift and delayed latency of the auditory evoked potential in diabetic neuropathy. These findings demonstrate that diabetes can produce a mouse model of auditory neuropathy and that coffee consumption potentially facilitates recovery from diabetes-induced auditory neuropathy. Furthermore, the active constituent in coffee may be trigonelline.


Abstract Source: Neurosci Lett. 2008 Aug 29;441(3):302-6. Epub 2008 Jun 22. PMID: 18586072

Coffee's antidiabetic activity may be due in part to its ability to inhibit the reactivation of hyperglycemic glucorticoids, e.g. cortisol

Recent epidemiological studies demonstrated a beneficial effect of coffee consumption for the prevention of type 2 diabetes, however, the underlying mechanisms remained unknown. We demonstrate that coffee extract, corresponding to an Italian Espresso, inhibits recombinant and endogenous 11beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (11beta-HSD1) activity. The inhibitory component is heat-stable with considerable polarity. Coffee extract blocked 11beta-HSD1-dependent cortisol formation, prevented the subsequent nuclear translocation of the glucocorticoid receptor and abolished glucocorticoid-induced expression of the key gluconeogenic enzyme phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase. We suggest that at least part of the anti-diabetic effects of coffee consumption is due to inhibition of 11beta-HSD1-dependent glucocorticoid reactivation.


Abstract Source: FEBS Lett. 2006 Jul 24;580(17):4081-5. Epub 2006 Jun 27. PMID: 16814782


Coffee appears to have a beneficial effect on pulmonary function, among non-smokers

Coffee contains polyphenolic antioxidants and caffeine, which may favorably affect pulmonary function. Therefore, the authors studied cross-sectional associations (1987-1989) between coffee intake and pulmonary function in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study, a population-based cohort study (analytic sample = 10,658). They also conducted analyses stratified by smoking status, since smoking is a strong risk factor for respiratory disease and could influence the effects of caffeine and antioxidants. Self-reported coffee intake was categorized as rare/never,<7 cups/week, 1 cup/day, 2-3 cups/day, and>or=4 cups/day. Pulmonary function was characterized by the spirometric measures forced vital capacity (FVC) and forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV(1)). After adjustment for demographic factors, lifestyle characteristics, and dietary factors, pulmonary function values increased across increasing categories of coffee consumption in never and former smokers but not in current smokers. In never or former smokers who consumed>or=4 cups of coffee daily, FVC and FEV(1) were 2%-3% greater than in never or former smokers who rarely/never consumed coffee (P(trend) values: in never smokers, 0.04 for FVC and 0.07 for FEV(1); in former smokers,<0.001 for FVC and<0.001 for FEV(1)). These data show a possible beneficial effect of coffee (or a coffee ingredient) on pulmonary function, but it appears to be limited to nonsmokers.


Abstract Source: Int J Cancer. 2010 Oct 15;127(8):1758-68. PMID: 19372215

Coffee's chemopreventive properties may be due to induction of cellular defenses and alteration of phase 1 detoxification enzymes

Coffee consumption has been associated with a significant decrease in the risk of developing chronic diseases such as Parkinson disease, diabetes type-2 and several types of cancers (e.g. colon, liver). In the present study, a coffee-dependent induction of enzymes involved in xenobiotic detoxification processes was observed in rat liver and primary hepatocytes. In addition, coffee was found to induce the mRNA and protein expression of enzymes involved in cellular antioxidant defenses. These inductions were correlated with the activation of the Nrf2 transcription factor as shown using an ARE-reporter luciferase assay. The induction of detoxifying enzymes GSTs and AKR is compatible with a protection against both genotoxicity and cytotoxicity of aflatoxin B1 (AFB1). This hypothesis was confirmed in in vitro and ex vivo test systems, where coffee reduced both AFB1-DNA and protein adducts. Interestingly, coffee was also found to inhibit cytochrome CYP1A1/2, indicating that other mechanisms different from a stimulation of detoxification may also play a significant role in the chemoprotective effects of coffee. Further investigations in either human liver cell line and primary hepatocytes indicated that the chemoprotective effects of coffee against AFB1 genotoxicity are likely to be of relevance for humans. These data strongly suggest that coffee may protect against the adverse effects of AFB1. In addition, the coffee-mediated stimulation of the Nrf2-ARE pathway resulting in increased endogenous defense mechanisms against electrophilic but also oxidative insults further support that coffee may be associated with a protection against various types of chemical stresses.


Abstract Source: Food Chem Toxicol. 2008 Apr;46(4):1239-48. Epub 2007 Sep 26. PMID: 17976884

Coffee demonstrates antiviral activity against HSV-1

Both hot water extracts of coffee grinds and instant coffee solutions inhibited the multiplication of herpes simplex virus type 1, a representative enveloped DNA virus, when they were added to the culture medium of the virus-infected cells at a dose of one fifth the concentration suitable for drinking. The antiherpetic activity was independent of the suppliers (companies) of the coffee grinds and of the locations where the coffee beans were produced. Further characterization revealed that there are two different mechanisms, by which the coffee extracts exert inhibitory activities on the virus infection; (1) a direct inactivation of the infectivity of virus particle (i.e., a virucidal activity) and (2) the inhibition of progeny infectious virus formation at the late stage of viral multiplication in the infected cells. Caffeine, but not quinic acid and chlorogenic acid, inhibited the virus multiplication to some extent, but none of them showed the virucidal activity, suggesting that other component(s) in the coffee extracts must play a role in the observed antiviral activity. In addition, the coffee extracts inhibited the multiplication of poliovirus, a non-enveloped RNA virus, but showed no virucidal effect on this virus.

Abstract Source: Food Chem Toxicol. 2008 Jun;46(6):1919-24. Epub 2008 Jan 26. PMID: 18314244


The consumption of coffe increases the metabolic activity and/or numbers of the Bifidobacterium spp. population

The impact of a moderate consumption of an instant coffee on the general composition of the human intestinal bacterial population was assessed in this study. Sixteen (16) healthy adult volunteers consumed a daily dose of 3 cups of coffee during 3 weeks. Faecal samples were collected before and after the consumption of coffee, and the impact of the ingestion of the product on the intestinal bacteria as well as the quantification of specific bacterial groups was assessed using nucleic acid-based methods. Although faecal profiles of the dominant microbiota were not significantly affected after the consumption of the coffee (Dice's similarity index=92%, n=16), the population of Bifidobacterium spp. increased after the 3-week test period (P=0.02). Moreover, in some subjects, there was a specific increase in the metabolic activity of Bifidobacterium spp. Our results show that the consumption of the coffee preparation resulting from water co-extraction of green and roasted coffee beans produce an increase in the metabolic activity and/or numbers of the Bifidobacterium spp. population, a bacterial group of reputed beneficial effects, without major impact on the dominant microbiota.

Abstract Source: Int J Food Microbiol. 2009 Mar 31;130(2):117-21. Epub 2009 Jan 23. PMID: 19217682



The second part - here



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