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"Is coffee the latest health drink?"

Calgary Herald

Source: Calgary Herald

Published: 17 Nov 2021

Category: Other

Rating: (2½ stars)

what they said (Hover the mouse cursor over underlined words for more info)

For years, coffee has gotten a bad rap, blamed for everything from high blood pressure to cancer and often perceived as an unhealthy drug only slightly less sinful than alcohol. At a recent coffee symposium in a New York espresso bar and gallery, scientists insisted it's time to forget the scare stories and start thinking of the beverage as a health drink.

"There's no compelling evidence that shows coffee is harmful, and every day there's more evidence that it's beneficial," reported Dr. Peter R. Martin, a psychiatrist and professor at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, where he heads the Institute for Coffee Studies.

A couple of cups a day are now thought to reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases like Type 2 diabetes, protect against certain cancers, and even enhance endurance during long physical workouts.

how did it rate? (more information)

Criteria Rating
Total Score 5 of 10
Availability of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Novelty of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Disease Mongering Satisfactory (?)
Treatment Options Not Satisfactory (?)
Costs of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Evidence Not Satisfactory (?)
Quantification of Benefits of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)
Harms of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)
Sources of Information Satisfactory (?)
Relies on Press Release Not Applicable
Quantification of harms of treatment Not Satisfactory (?)

what we said (Hover the mouse cursor over underlined words for more info)

What could be more important than knowing the health benefits of a substance most of us consume almost every day of our adult lives? With more than $70 billion worth of coffee consumed every year, it is very important to know whether our daily java actually has any beneficial effects on our health. The story is based on a coffee symposium that was recently held in New York City and quotes from several coffee researchers.

Sadly, this story lacks any analysis or commentary on the types of evidence and quality of research that has gone into the assertions made about coffee's benefits. The properties attributed to coffee in this article are lengthy and all positive. It apparently reduces the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, protects against certain cancers, enhances endurance and is associated with "a lower incidence of common illnesses such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, heart disease, cancer, and possibly even alcohol and drug addiction." I'll have a second cup please.

One of the researchers is quoted as saying that at least 17,000 scientific papers have been published on coffee and caffeine in the past 25 years and that there have been at least 150 articles in the past 10 years establishing evidence of the therapeutic effects of coffee.

This article is bothersome because it lacks any detail of the evidence, and no actual quantification of coffee's alleged benefits. For instance, how much coffee does one have to drink and how much does it actually affect things like heart disease and cancer?

Also problemtaic is that there is only a passing mention of harms. We do not know if it is possible to be harmed by too much coffee nor is 'moderate consumption' defined. The story does not provide any commentary from individuals who are unconnected to the coffee industry or coffee researchers, who might be able to provide an alternative viewpoint.

The reporter appropriately noted that there are potential conflicts of interest, as the symposium was sponsored by a large European coffee maker. We all want to believe that coffee consumption has healthful benefits, sadly, articles which lack even basic evidence do nothing to inform the reading public.

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