There is nothing like a morning cup of coffee. I have friends who need it as soon as they wake up and some carry a cup wherever they go the whole day. Is coffee good for your health?

Coffee stimulates the nervous system and relieves mental and physical fatigue. In addition, various scientific studies have shown that coffee prevents or delays the onset of a few neurological diseases, type 2 diabetes, and reduces the risk of death from heart attacks, strokes and diabetes. Latest research suggests that coffee reduces the risk of multiple sclerosis and colorectal cancer. Here is a brief summary.

Coffee and Cardiovascular Disease: A Harvard School of Public Health statistical study on 167,944 women and 40,557 men revealed that coffee consumption (caffeinated and decaffeinated) was associated with a decreased mortality risk due to cardiovascular causes. In the study, this association was seen also for neurological diseases and suicide tendencies.

Coffee and Obesity: Nordestgaard and others have published an epidemiological study on 93,179 people in the International Journal of epidemiology. They found a lower risk of obesity and type. 2 diabetes in high coffee consumers. When obesity is controlled the cholesterol and low density lipoproteins decrease, thus reducing cardiovascular risk.

Coffee and Liver Cancer: Francisca Bravi and others published a statistical metaanalysis in Gastroenterology and Hepatology journal (November, 2013) on 3,153 patients with liver cancer. Coffee consumers had a reduced risk of 40 percent of hepatocellular cancer.

Coffee and colorectal cancer: Brendan Guercio and others (2015) have published a statistical study on 953 patients with stage 3 colon cancer. Patients who consumed four cups or more of caffeinated coffee showed reduced cancer recurrence or mortality risk. Non-herbal tea and decaffeinated coffee did not show such a benefit. This benefit is probably due to the multiple antioxidants present in coffee. Stephanie Schmit and others from USC analyzed data from 5,100 individuals with colon cancer and 4,000 normal people. The researchers noted that drinking one or two cups of coffee daily reduced the risk of colorectal cancer by 26 percent. The decrease in the risk was more (50 percent) for those who consumed coffee more than 2.5 cups.

Coffee and Multiple Sclerosis (MS): MS is a neurological disease that causes partial or total blindness, weakness, sensory problems, speech defect and other symptoms and signs. There are many medications to slow the progress of the disease but none for complete cure.

In animal studies, caffeine given to rats has prevented MS-like disease. Dr. Headstrom and others from Karolinska Institute in Nobels studied two groups of MS patients. One group was from Sweden and the other from USA. The researchers enrolled 2,779 MS patients and obtained their coffee drinking habits. The risk of MS was decreased in those who consumed more than 7.5 cups of coffee, quite a lot of coffee in my opinion. The authors concluded that coffee consumption leads to lowered risk for MS, which is possibly due to neuroprotective properties of coffee.

Coffee facts from “The Huffington Post” says that Americans consume 400 million cups of coffee a day. We are addicted to coffee. About 52 percent of coffee drinkers would rather go without a shower in the morning than give up coffee.

So postpone the shower. Go and have a cup of coffee right now. It is good for your health.

(Dr. Raghavendra Rao is a pediatrician in Porterville. He writes periodically for The Recorder.)

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