Drinking more coffee leads to a longer life, two studies say
By Daniella Emanuel, CNN
4 minute read
11:41 AM EDT, Wed July 12, 2017
It's thumbs up today, but the news on coffee has not always been positive. Take a look at the arguments for and against coffee through the centuries.
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1500s headline: Coffee makes you frisky —
Legend has it that coffee was discovered by Kaldi, an Ethiopian goatherd, after he caught his suddenly frisky goats eating glossy green leaves and red berries and then tried it for himself.
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1500s headline: Coffee leads to illegal sex —
But it was the Arabs who started coffeehouses, and that's where coffee got its first black mark. Patrons of coffeehouses were said to be more likely to gamble and engage in "criminally unorthodox sexual situations," according to author Ralph Hattox.
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1600s headline: Coffee cures alcoholism —
As the popularity of coffee grew and spread, the medical community began to extol its benefits. It was especially popular in England as a cure for alcoholism, one of the biggest medical problems of the time.
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1600s headline: Coffee cures all? —
This 1652 ad by London coffee shop owner Pasqua Rosée popularized coffee's healthy status, claiming that coffee could aid digestion, prevent and cure gout and scurvy, help coughs, headaches and stomachaches, and even prevent miscarriages.
1700s headline: Coffee helps you work longer —
By 1730, tea had replaced coffee in London as the daily drink of choice. That preference continued in the colonies until 1773, when the famous Boston Tea Party made it unpatriotic to drink tea. Coffee houses popped up everywhere, and the marvelous stimulant qualities of the brew were said to contribute to the ability of the colonists to work longer hours.
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1800s headline: Coffee shortage —
In the mid-1800s, America was at war with itself, and one side effect was that coffee supplies ran short. Enter toasted grain-based beverage substitutes such as Kellogg's "Caramel Coffee" and C.W. Post's "Postum" (still manufactured), which advertised with anti-coffee tirades to boost sales.
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1800s headline: Coffee will make you go blind —
Postum's ads against coffee were especially negative, claiming that coffee was as bad as morphine, cocaine, nicotine or strychnine and could cause blindness.
1927 headline: Coffee will give you bad grades, kids —
In a 1927 Science magazine article, 80,000 elementary and junior high kids were asked about their coffee drinking habits. Researchers found the "startling" fact that most of them drank more than a cup of coffee a day, which was compared with scholarship with mostly negative results.
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1970s headline: Coffee is as serious as a heart attack —
In 1978, the same year Baseball Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio began selling Mr. Coffee on TV, a New England Journal of Medicine study found a short-term rise in blood pressure after three cups of coffee.
And a 1973 study found that drinking one to five cups of coffee a day increased risk of heart attacks by 60%, while drinking six or more cups a day doubled that risk to 120%.
2000 era headline: Time for meta-analysis —
Now begins the era of the meta-analysis, in which researchers look at hundreds of studies and apply scientific principles to find those which do the best job of randomizing and controlling for compounding factors, such as smoking. The results for coffee: mostly good.
But first, a couple of negatives: A 2001 study found a 20% increase in risk of urinary tract cancer for coffee drinkers but not tea drinkers. That finding was repeated in a 2015 meta-analysis. So if this is a risk factor in your family history, you might want to switch to tea.
And a 2010 meta-analysis found a correlation between coffee consumption and lung disease, but the study found it impossible to completely eliminate the confounding effects of smoking.