Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Drinking coffee is healthy everywhere – except in California?

The California court system has ruled that coffee retailers must warn consumers about small amounts of acrylamide (a naturally-occurring substance widely present throughout the food supply) in roasted coffee beans.  Like many compounds found in everyday foods, it has been shown to cause cancer when given (1) to animals at high doses, and (2) in isolation, conditions not present with humans drinking coffee.   An analogous argument would lead to a ban on apples, because apples contain cyanide (they really do!).  The fact is that people who drink coffee appear to be significantly healthier than those who do not, with less risk of heart disease, atrial fibrillation, diabetes, dementia, depression, respiratory illness, and all-cause death.   

My recommendation:
  1. Continue drinking coffee but skip added sweeteners and commercial milk substitutes.  (For details on the health benefits of coffee see pages 36-37 of Good Food, Great Medicine – 3rd edition.)
  2. Be wary of recommendations using reductionist arguments that don’t stand up to scientific evidence or critical thinking.  We need be able to counter irrational judgments with thoughtful reasoning – our health depends on it.
  3. Eat an apple with your coffee – it helps keep the doctor away!

Miles Hassell MD