The healthfulness or otherwise of coffee has long been journalistic fodder, there to fill in the gaps on some of the slower news days. “A new report says coffee will prevent colon cancer,” “a newer report says drinking a single cup of coffee will reduce your lifespan by five years,” and so on and so forth. As the news editor at Sprudge, I see them all, in all their contradictory glory. (If you’d like to see what a day in the life of a coffee news editor is like, please enjoy this unedited photo.)
Coffee, how does it work? No one really knows. Or rather, a lot of studies say they know but they all have different answers. But according to the Washington Post, there’s a new study that studies all the studies, and—stop me if you’ve heard this one before—it says that coffee is good for you.
Led by Giuseppe Grosso, a nutritional epidemiologist at the University of Catania in Italy, this new report meta-analyzes 127 previous studies on coffee, which is basically just a fun way of saying that they looked at the strength of the arguments presented in the studies. Each study was then assigned a rating, from “convincing” down to “limited.” None of the 127 studies received a rating of “convincing” because, as the Washington Post notes, “observational studies lack the rigor of gold-standard trials that use placebo controls.” But, many studies were found to be “probable” and they showed links between drinking coffee and reduced risks of developing “many common cancers including breast, colorectal, colon, endometrial and prostate.”
Additionally, the study “solved some earlier discrepancies” about coffee’s part in increasing risk for high blood pressure and “death from all cancers,” which sounds like a curse you’d hear as the last words of a character dying in one of Shakespeare’s tragedies. As it turns out, many of these studies “adequately control for smoking — a habit that’s strongly linked to coffee consumption.” In fact, when you looked at the just the data on non-smokers from these same studies, moderate coffee consumption was shown to provide some protection from the very diseases it was being said to cause.
So that’s it. Coffee’s Metacritic score is “healthy.” Please don’t make me read anymore articles on how 12 cups of coffee a day will make you an inch shorter over a 20 year span or whatever the next study will say. We’ve got the result we want, so let’s just leave it at that.