8 Surprising Health Benefits of Coffee

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Sarah Lewis, PharmD on March 31, 2021

Coffee is a beverage brewed from coffee beans. Without sweeteners, it's slightly bitter, and has almost no calories. It also has some surprising health perks.

  • Young Woman Applying Cream On Her Face
    1. Coffee may decrease your risk of skin cancer.
    A recent study found that some coffee drinkers were 20% less likely to develop melanoma. The study, reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, looked at caffeinated coffee and the findings were for people who drank at least four cups a day. This adds to previous findings that coffee drinkers had a 20% lower risk of basal cell skin cancer. But researchers stress the importance of preventing skin cancer with a daily, broad-spectrum sunscreen, whether you drink coffee or not.
  • Woman getting blood sugar levels checked
    2. Coffee may decrease your risk of type 2 diabetes.
    There’s a lot of evidence drinking coffee may decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes. But a recent study suggests changing your coffee consumption habits can also have an effect. The study looked at caffeinated coffee consumption over a four-year period. People who increased their habit by more than one cup per day had an 11% lower risk of type 2 diabetes. People who decreased their habit by more than one cup per day actually increased their risk by 17%. Just remember to watch the cream and sugar.
  • Slide 2: DCP: The Stages of Parkinson's Disease Treatment
    3. Coffee may protect against Parkinson’s disease.
    Studies have found that caffeinated coffee drinkers tend to have a lower risk of developing Parkinson’s disease (PD). Experts are now exploring whether your genes play a role. A landmark study in this area found that on average, coffee drinkers had a 27% lower risk of PD. And heavy coffee drinkers with a certain gene variant had a whopping 59% lower risk. This has exciting implications for treating the disease and tailoring treatment to your genetic makeup.
  • Doctor pointing at model liver
    4. Coffee may be good for your liver.
    Certain studies suggest moderate consumption—about three cups a day—protects against liver disease. Coffee seems to improve liver function tests, reduce the risk of liver cancer, and reduce the risk of alcoholic and nonalcoholic cirrhosis. Coffee may also enhance treatment for hepatitis C and help prevent fatty liver disease. Along with caffeine, coffee contains numerous antioxidants that scientists think might play a role in protecting the liver.
  • Depressed woman
    5. Coffee may lower your risk of depression and suicide.
    Moderate coffee consumption—about 2 to 3 cups—may also benefit your mental health. Harvard researchers found that men and women who drank coffee had a 50% lower risk of suicide. Scientists see caffeine as having a positive effect on brain chemicals that play a role in depression. Boosting levels of serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline may have a mild antidepressant effect in coffee drinkers. If you’re depressed, stick with your treatment and don’t try to replace it with coffee.
  • Triglycerides and Stroke
    6. Coffee may reduce stroke risk.
    In general, results of coffee’s effect on stroke risk have been inconsistent. But a couple of recent studies show a positive effect of moderate coffee consumption on stroke risk. One study found that female coffee drinkers had a 25% lower risk of stroke compared to non-drinkers. And a large Japanese study found that coffee consumption reduced the risk of stroke for men and women in the general population.
  • Woman holding fake heart
    7. Coffee may be good for your heart.
    Drinking coffee on a regular basis may reduce your risk of high blood pressure and help control heart disease, heart failure, and arrhythmias. In fact, coffee drinkers may even have a reduced risk of dying from a cardiovascular event. But keep in mind caffeine does have the ability to raise blood pressure, which is a risk factor for heart disease. If you drink coffee and are having trouble controlling your blood pressure, try cutting back on your coffee to see if it helps.
  • Woman Drinking Coffee
    8. Coffee may reduce your risk of cancer.
    Coffee’s effect on cancer risk varies. It most likely lowers the risk of liver cancer and endometrial cancer, and may lower the risk of colorectal cancer. There may be no association at all for other cancers, such as breast, kidney, pancreatic, ovarian, prostate and digestive cancers. However, the same study that found no increase in deaths from certain cardiovascular diseases also found no increase in cancer deaths in coffee drinkers.
8 Surprising Health Benefits of Coffee
  1. Arab L. Epidemiologic evidence on coffee and cancer. Nutr Cancer. 2010;62(3):271-83.
  2. Ask the Expert: Coffee and Health. Harvard School of Public Health. http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/coffee/#1
  3. Bhupathiraju SN, Pan A, Manson JE, Willett WC, van Dam RM, et al. Changes in coffee intake and subsequent risk of type 2 diabetes: three large cohorts of US men and women. Diabetologia. 2014 Jul;57(7):1346-54.
  4. Bravi F, Bosetti C, Tavani A, Bagnardi V, Gallus S, et al. Coffee drinking and hepatocellular carcinoma risk: a meta-analysis. Hepatology. 2007 Aug;46(2):430-5.
  5. Catalano D, Martines GF, Tonzuso A, Pirri C, Trovato FM, et al. Protective role of coffee in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Dig Dis Sci. 2010 Nov;55(11):3200-6.
  6. Coffee and Heart Health. American College of Cardiology. https://www.cardiosmart.org/News-and-Events/2013/07/Coffee-and-Heart-Health
  7. Coffee Drinking Tied to Lower Risk of Suicide. Harvard University. http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2013/07/drinking-coffee-may-reduce-risk-of-suicide-by-50/
  8. Freedman ND, Everhart JE, Lindsay KL, Ghany MG, Curto TM, et al. Coffee intake is associated with lower rates of liver disease progression in chronic hepatitis C. Hepatology. 2009 Nov;50(5):1360-9.
  9. Hamza TH, Chen H, Hill-Burns EM, Rhodes SL, Montimurro J, et al. Genome-wide gene-environment study identifies glutamate receptor gene GRIN2A as a Parkinson's disease modifier gene via interaction with coffee. PLoS Genet. 2011 Aug;7(8):e1002237.
  10. International Coffee Day -- Coffee, Good for You and Your Liver. Canadian Liver Foundation. http://www.liver.ca/newsroom/liver-in-the-news/Liver_in_the_News_coffee.aspx
  11. Klatsky AL, Morton C, Udaltsova N, Friedman GD. Coffee, cirrhosis, and transaminase enzymes. Arch Intern Med. 2006 Jun 12;166(11):1190-5.
  12. Kokubo Y, Iso H, Saito I, Yamagishi K, Yatsuya H, et al. The impact of green tea and coffee consumption on the reduced risk of stroke incidence in Japanese population: the Japan public health center-based study cohort. Stroke. 2013 May;44(5):1369-74.
  13. Larsson SC, Virtamo J, Wolk A. Coffee consumption and risk of stroke in women. Stroke. 2011 Apr;42(4):908-12.
  14. Loftfield E, Freedman ND, Graubard BI, Hollenbeck AR, Shebl FM, et al. Coffee Drinking and Cutaneous Melanoma Risk in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2015 Jan 20;107(2).
  15. Lopez-Garcia E, van Dam RM, Li TY, Rodriguez-Artalejo F, Hu FB. The Relationship of Coffee Consumption with Mortality. Ann Intern Med. 2008;148:904-914.
  16. Lucas M, O'Reilly EJ, Pan A, Mirzaei F, Willett WC, et al. Coffee, caffeine, and risk of completed suicide: results from three prospective cohorts of American adults. World J Biol Psychiatry. 2014 Jul;15(5):377-86.
  17. O'Keefe JH, Bhatti SK, Patil HR, DiNicolantonio JJ, Lucan SC, et al. Effects of habitual coffee consumption on cardiometabolic disease, cardiovascular health, and all-cause mortality. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2013 Sep 17;62(12):1043-51.
  18. Protective Effect of Coffee in Parkinson’s has a Genetic Basis. Parkinson’s Disease Foundation. http://www.pdf.org/en/science_news/release/pr_1323353225
  19. Ruhl CE, Everhart JE. Coffee and caffeine consumption reduce the risk of elevated serum alanine aminotransferase activity in the United States. Gastroenterology. 2005 Jan;128(1):24-32.
  20. Song F, Qureshi AA, Han J. Increased caffeine intake is associated with reduced risk of basal cell carcinoma of the skin. Cancer Res. 2012 Jul 1;72(13):3282-9.
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Last Review Date: 2021 Mar 31
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