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Negative effects of coffee – how it can impact your health

Updated on February 12, 2013
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I really do love my morning coffee. I don’t really drink it at any other point during the day, but I have to drink my big mug while I’m getting my son ready for school and feeding the baby in the morning. I wrote a hub a little while ago about the health benefits of coffee (and they are great benefits!), but it wouldn’t be fair to ignore the other side of the coin and list the negative effects of this great drink. It’s not as fun to think about, but it deserves its time in the spotlight.

High Blood Pressure

The results were mixed, as is the case in most of the studies that I looked up for this hub. In non-coffee drinkers, when they did drink coffee, the caffeine in it rose their blood pressure by up to 10mm Hg. But when it came to chronic coffee drinkers, the acute ingestion of the caffeine didn’t raise their blood pressure.

Like anything else though, there are people that are more sensitive to the caffeine in coffee then others. The Mayo Clinic recommends that if you do have high blood pressure to drink no more than 24oz per day and avoiding coffee before any physical labor or vigorous exercise.

Coronary artery disease

There haven’t been any studies that have been able to show that there’s an increase in this disease among average coffee drinkers. I say “average” because they did find that there is a fairly common genetic mutation that causes people to metabolize caffeine slowly. In these people, the risk of coronary disease can be worsened with coffee consumption.

What the researchers did find was that coffee negatively affected the tone and function of blood vessels. Greek researchers are thinking that the caffeine affected aortic stiffness and thereby increased the chances of heart disease. But again, if you’re “average”, you should be fine.

Cholesterol

Coffee (especially unfiltered) can increase serum and LDL cholesterol levels in some people. If you drink unfiltered coffee (if you use a press pot) your cholesterol levels will increase. Unfiltered coffee can increase your total cholesterol by 23 mg/dl and a 14 mg/dl rise in LDL cholesterol.

The cause of the increase is two cholesterol causing substances that are found only in coffee beans called cafestol and kahweol. The good news is that if you use filters for your coffee, the filters are able to block these compounds and your cholesterol levels will not increase.


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Dehydration

Coffee is a diuretic (it makes you pee a lot!) and so for that very reason, coffee drinkers are at risk for dehydration. To avoid dehydration, all you have to do is simply make an effort to drink water and other caffeine-free drinks, especially before and after exercise and if you live in an arid climate.

Osteoporosis

Coffee can increase the urine input of calcium. For every 100 milligrams of caffeine you consume, you lose about 6 milligrams of calcium. One 16 ounce of coffee has about 320 milligrams. However, one study found that if you drink milk every day (or find another way to get an adequate amount of calcium in your diet) that you will offset what calcium you lost from the coffee.

So the jury is still out on the safety of coffee in relation to your health. Depending on which person you speak with, even given the studies that have been conducted, you would probably end up with a split among both sides. Or, you could probably get the answer I get from my mother when I ask her if her constant coffee in her hand habit is good for her; “Who cares? It tastes great and I love it. That’s enough for me.”

That’s good enough for me too, mom.

Will you be changing your coffee habits?

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