Archive for health

Wake up and smell the coffee study

Posted in The News, The Truth with tags , , , , on June 8, 2008 by Adam Sapiro

Go ahead and have that second cup of coffee. It’s good for you. But you’d better enjoy it. Because it’s going to kill you!

Late last month, the media reported that researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston found no link between coffee consumption and the risk of breast cancer. Whew. So drink up, right?

Not so fast. In my 10 years working at one daily paper, I saw endless “news” stories on the health benefits and dangers of coffee and alcohol. One week, one or the other is proclaimed the secret to eternal life. The next, it’s Enemy No. 1 to a kinda-vital organ. It’s enough to make you drink.

Google “coffee study” and your head will spin: OK, just going by the headlines of the news articles, I’ve learned that coffee may reduce the risk of dementia, may cause heart disease, may provide healthy antioxidants, may raise the risk of miscarriage, may prevent colon cancer, may raise cholesterol levels, may lower the risk of suicide, may protect smokers from bladder cancer, may increase the risk of rheumatoid arthritis (if the coffee is decaffeinated), may improve short-term memory, may lower the risk of diabetes, may cause coffee breath, and may increase the size of your penis (OK, that was just an email, but I studied it).

There’s even a study that says coffee may counteract alcohol’s poisonous effects on the liver and help prevent cirrhosis. How’s that for teamwork!

The news media don’t really care whether coffee is good or bad for you. They just know you drink coffee, and that a screaming headline about coffee’s health effects will get your attention. So they loooove these stories. Doesn’t matter if the study was conducted in Belarus on a group of 24 capuchin monkeys — they’re gonna run with it.

I don’t know why we can’t just accept that coffee, like all things in life except for pizza and Paris Hilton, is neither all good nor all bad. I’m no doctor or researcher like this John Hopkins guy, but I don’t need no stinkin’ study to reach my conclusion about coffee (and life): Everything in moderation.

But, hell, that doesn’t make for much of a headline.