Science Has No Idea How Much Coffee is Too Much

4 min read
Science Has No Idea How Much Coffee Is Too Much

For a peek into coffee culture, consider Wally from the Dilbert comic strip. He is coffee drinking to the extreme. In fact, he never does any actual work, yet manages to avoid getting fired with a great aptitude for verbal gymnastics. He even had the nerve to say that the pointy-haired boss of creating a hostile work environment.” There’s too much pressure,” Wally whined. “I can’t work AND drink coffee!” The bewildered boss could only reply, “I’m cutting you back to 40 cups a day.”

Humans divide themselves on many issues. But there are some things that we can get together on, such as our unrelenting passion for coffee. Over 500 billion cups of java are consumed every year. When you consider that there are only 7.7 billion human mouths to drink them, and there are a few people who don’t drink it, that leaves a very large caffeine addict community to be a part of. But where is the line between a lot and too much? Is there even such a thing? Let’s look at the data.

Research, Research, Research

Research, Research, Research

Interestingly enough, there is an abundance of research about coffee: new research, old research, and research by NASA. The problem is that the conclusions are all over the place.

The University of South Australia published a paper in May 2019 that stated that five cups of Joe a day wouldn’t damage a person’s health. Unfortunately, they did find that more than six could increase the risk of heart disease by about 20%. Around four weeks later, Queen Mary University of London published a study that showed that drinking 25 cups of steaming coffee a day did not have a negative effect on the heart. Amazingly, there were a few participants who actually managed to drink more than that (presumably because they think Wally is a real person that should be emulated), but they were excluded from the study.

This is terribly contradictory. On the one hand, six mugs are too much, but on the other hand, we can keep drinking as much as we want until we’re suffering from caffeine poisoning. That’s OK, we’re sure more conflicting studies will be released soon.

It’s Healthy; No, It’s Not.

It's Healthy; No, It's Not

On top of not agreeing on how many cups is too many, researchers keep producing contradictory studies on how coffee might affect the body.

According to a study published in November 2018, the risk of developing Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease is reduced by drinking coffee. They analyzed its chemical components to reach this conclusion. But earlier the same year a different study found that drinking coffee might worsen the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.  So you should drink up if you don’t already have Alzheimer’s, but stop if you happen to get it? We need to investigate. We’ll report back after the next study comes out. Or the one after that.

A different study conducted in March 2019 with 1.2 million participants showed that by drinking coffee you increase your risk of developing lung cancer, even if you don’t smoke. But there is hope. A study published in July 2018 found that drinking eight or more cups of coffee a day makes 14% less likely to die early. That’s really good news if you drink vats of coffee instead of cups. So coffee gives you lung cancer, but if you start drinking at least eight cups every day, you can cheat death. We think.

We should point out that, coffee seems to repair more than it destroys. One study from June 2019 claimed that coffee can help people lose weight by increasing the beneficial “brown fat” in their bodies. Also, a recent study proved what every coffee drinker already knows: It makes you more regular.

The American Heart Association paid for a study that was published in November 2017. That study found that heart failure risk decreased by seven percent and stroke risk by eight percent for every additional cup per week for coffee drinkers, compared to those that don’t drink coffee.

UK researchers took data from 200 coffee-related studies into a (figurative) coffee pot and reached one seriously delicious conclusion. People who drink four cups a day have been shown to have a lower risk of heart disease. This same compiled study demonstrated an association between drinking coffee and a lower risk of diabetes, liver disease, and dementia. Just a sec, isn’t coffee supposed to raise your blood pressure? This is true, but research suggests that this effect is greatly diminished with people who normally drink coffee. Your body can develop resistance to the coffee jitters, apparently.

What Does It All Mean?

What Does It All Mean

In conclusion, it’s hard to understand the effects of coffee on our bodies. This is slightly upsetting since we all spend all day every day drinking this substance. The good news is that in general, it seems to have more pros than cons. There is probably no good answer to how much is too much. Everybody is different and so it is only logical that each one of us can ingest a different amount. The most important thing to remember is that moderation is key. Try to keep it under 25 cups a day.