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Heavy coffee consumption — Risky for some?

I routinely drink four or five cups of regular coffee a day. Should I cut back?

Updated: 2020-07-17

Answer Section

Studies have shown that coffee may have health benefits, such as protecting against Parkinson's disease, diabetes and liver cancer. However, studies on coffee consumption in relation to mortality are limited, and the results have been mixed.

A report in Mayo Clinic Proceedings warns of potential harm, specifically increased risk of premature death for men under age 55 who drink more than 28 cups of coffee a week, or an average of more than four cups a day.

One of the limitations of the report, however, is that it does not account for dietary or socio-economic 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 man who drinks four or more cups of coffee a day, you may want to take a step back and assess how coffee fits into your lifestyle. Here are a 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?
  • Are you a cigarette smoker? Do you find that having a cup of coffee prompts you to light up?
  • Are you getting enough physical activity? If you're not, how can you work more into your daily routine? Consider replacing a coffee break with a short walk.