Nutrition-wise blog

Heavy coffee consumption — risky in younger adults?

By Jennifer K. Nelson, R.D., L.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D. September 11, 2013

Studies have shown that coffee may have health benefits, such as protecting against Parkinson's disease, diabetes and liver cancer. And it has a high content of antioxidants.

Unfortunately for coffee lovers, the research is not conclusively in your favor. A recent report in Mayo Clinic Proceedings warns of potential harm, specifically increased risk of premature death for men under age 55 who drink more than more than 28 cups of coffee a week, or an average of 4 cups a day. Some might consider this many cups excessive, while others might view it as not far from the norm.

One of the limitations of the report, however, is that it does not account for dietary or socioeconomic factors. However, it does factor in smoking, exercise and chronic diseases, such as high blood pressure and diabetes. The results show that heavier coffee drinkers are more likely to be smokers and to be less fit.

If you're a heavy coffee drinker, you may want to take a step back and assess how coffee fits into your lifestyle. Here are few questions to ponder:

  • Is your coffee consumption to compensate for poor quality or too little sleep? Or is the caffeine possibly causing the sleep disturbance?
  • Is your coffee sweetened with cream, sugar or syrup? If so, you're likely drinking more calories than you realize. This may be causing unwanted weight gain, which in turn may increase your risk of weight-related diseases.
  • Is coffee replacing healthy meals or snacks? Are you skipping breakfast or healthy snacks and relying instead on caffeine to keep you going throughout the day?

So what is your takeaway from this? Will you change your habits, perhaps trying to moderate your coffee consumption? Or will you wait to decide until there's more research on coffee consumption and health risks?

To your health,


Sept. 11, 2013