If you drink this many cups of coffee a day you raise your risk for these 3 serious diseases

Research exploring the health effects associated with habitual coffee consumption seems to yield positive results more often than not—especially lately. 

Of course, caffeine is a stimulant drug that impacts the nervous system, which means some adverse outcomes are to be expected as a consequence of immoderate use. 

New data helmed by genetic epidemiologists at the University of Southern Australia posits that excessive coffee consumption dramatically increases one’s risk of developing the following disorders: osteoarthritis, arthropathy, and obesity. 

The authors derived their data from the 333,214 participants of White-British ancestry involved in the Mendelian randomization phenome-wide association study from 2019 (MR-PheWAS).

“Coffee is the most commonly consumed beverage in the world after water, however the debate as to whether coffee consumption is beneficial or detrimental to health continues. Current evidence of the link between coffee and health outcomes is predominately observational, thus subject to methodological issues such as confounding and reverse causation,” the authors wrote in the new paper. “This large-scale MR-PheWAS provided little evidence for notable harm or benefit with respect to higher habitual coffee consumption. The only evidence for harm was seen with respect to osteoarthrosis, other arthropathies, and obesity.”

 The causal association between genetically instrumented habitual coffee consumption and disease outcomes

The individuals logged into the UK Biobank featured in the new report who consumed more than six cups of coffee a day were compellingly linked to the full range of diseases indexed above, though 1,117 conditions were examined in total. 

The bio-analytical mechanisms employed by The University of Southern Australia provide a great deal of credibility to their findings. 

Most studies reviewing the health effects of coffee, be they positive or negative, are based on self-reporting. MR-PheWAS analysis, on the other hand, relies on genetic data. 

The authors constructed a genetic risk score for habitual coffee consumption and screened for associations with disease outcomes across 1,117 case-controls. Of all the conditions studied, only four showcased a disguisable relationship with excessive coffee consumption:

Osteoarthrosis, arthropathies, obesity, and lower odds of postmenopausal bleeding. These phenotypic correlates were again supported by self-reported coffee consumption.

“Globally, we drink around three billion cups of coffee each day, so it makes sense to explore the pros and cons of this on our health,” lead researcher, Professor Elina Hyppönen explained. “Typically, the effects of coffee consumption are investigated using an observational approach, where comparisons are made against non-coffee-drinkers. But this can deliver misleading results. Reassuringly, our results suggest that moderate coffee drinking is mostly safe. But it also showed that habitual coffee consumption increased the risks of three diseases: osteoarthritis, arthropathy, and obesity, which can cause significant pain and suffering for individuals with these conditions.”

Although the authors are confident that there are no adverse health effects caused by moderate coffee consumption, they believe people with a family history of osteoarthritis or arthritis should be mindful of their daily coffee intake. 

“The body generally sends powerful messages with respect to coffee consumption, so it’s imperative that individuals listen to these when consuming coffee, Professor Hyppönen concluded. “While these results are in many ways reassuring in terms of general coffee consumption, the message we should always remember is consume coffee in moderation — that’s the best bet to enjoy your coffee and good health too.”

CW Headley is a reporter for the Ladders and can be reached at cheadley@theladders.com