How Much Coffee Is Too Much Coffee? Science Has No Clue
If there's one thing that truly has the potential to unite the human race, it's our unrelenting passion for coffee. Over 500 billion cups of Joe are consumed every year, which is a lot, especially considering there are only 7.7 billion human mouths to drink them. But how much coffee, exactly, is too much? Is there even such a thing? Let's look at the data.
First of all, there's an impressive, almost frightening amount of research about coffee, with piping hot new studies popping up almost every month. Problem is, the conclusions don't exactly line up. In May 2019, a study conducted by the University of South Australia determined that five cups of Wakey Juice a day is OK, but six or more increases your risk of heart disease by 22%. But then, less than a month later, a study from Queen Mary University of London claimed that drinking even 25 cups of coffee every day isn't bad for your heart. Some participants actually managed to drink more than that, but they were excluded from the study (kinda hard to run tests on you when you're stuck on a toilet for the foreseeable future).
So either we should stop at five cups, or we can keep going until we're too shaky to hold a mug. One of those two.
Not only are researchers unable to agree on how many cups is too many cups, but there's also contradictory data on how coffee might (or might not) screw up your health. A November 2018 study found that drinking coffee may reduce your chances of developing Parkinson's or Alzheimer's disease, through a rigorous analysis of its chemical components. This came as a huge relief to anyone who already forgot that earlier that year, another serious study provided evidence that coffee worsens the symptoms of Alzheimer's. So ... drink up if you don't already have Alzheimer's, but stop if you happen to get it?
A March 2019 study with 1.2 million participants claimed that drinking coffee increases your risk of developing lung cancer, even if you don't smoke. Fortunately, a July 2018 study found that if you drink eight or more cups of coffee a day, you're 14% less likely to die within the next ten days, suggesting that coffee has some sort of magical protective effect. So if coffee gives you lung cancer, start drinking at least eight cups every day, and you'll be able to cheat the Grim Reaper forever! Maybe.
We should note that on the whole, coffee seems to fix more than it breaks. A June 2019 study found that coffee can help you lose weight by increasing the beneficial "brown fat" in your body. Speaking of brown stuff, another recent study proved what every coffee drinker already knows: It stimulates your bowels and makes you poop. In November 2017, a study bankrolled by the American Heart Association found that coffee drinkers decrease their heart failure risk by 7% and stroke risk by 8% for every additional cup they gulp down per week, compared to non-drinkers. They even made a nice graphic that you can passive-aggressively leave on the cubicle of your workplace's obligatory smug tea drinker:
When UK researchers threw data from 200 coffee-related studies into a (figurative) blender, the delicious conclusion that came out was that drinking three or four cups a day is linked with a lower risk of death and heart disease. The same compiled study found an association between drinking coffee and a decreased risk of diabetes, liver disease, and dementia. But wait, doesn't coffee raise your blood pressure? It sure does, but research suggests that this effect is greatly diminished with habitual drinkers. You can build up a resistance to the coffee jitters, apparently.
In short, we still don't fully understand all the ways coffee affects our bodies. Which is kinda scary for something we're all pouring in there every day. But hey, at least it seems to do more good than harm? As far as determining how much coffee is too much, we probably don't have a one-size-fits-all answer, because a one-size-fits-all doesn't exist. We're all unique, and as is the case with most things, moderation seems to be key. So maybe stop before 25 cups a day.
For more, check out If Coffee Commercials Were Honest:
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