Every now and then, there are research reports on the benefits as well as the harm of coffee consumption in the journals and the newspapers. Once, they say it is bad; then a few days later, they say it is good.

What to rely upon?

  • 4
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because while it asks about coffee, it essentially asks about how to judge contradicting scientific studies and newspaper articles.
    – Stephie
    Feb 3, 2019 at 7:19
  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because while tangentially about coffee this is primarily about critical thinking
    – Nick Udell
    Jul 5, 2019 at 12:06

1 Answer 1


Generally, it's helpful when considering "resaerch" - to consider the source rather than the newspaper report of a resaerch paper.

More times than not - with coffee as with just about any other topic from science explained in the media - the news is taking a high level single take away from what may be a complex study.

For example: if something says "coffee is bad" what's under the headline? Bad for rats when forcefed caffeine for a week and kept awake?

Likewise for coffee, one of the best things to do if interested in the science is look for REVIEW articles, that have been carried out over the past couple years so the latest work is included - and see where the consensus is at -

That's one.

The other is to look at those reviews in terms of areas - so coffee consumption over X mg may be completely bad - for a particular effect - but completely fine in another.

Right now it's difficult to find where coffee at normal levels (a few cups a day) has any real problems. and may have benefits

For instance - this is a quote from a 2017 big review of studies on coffee


Conclusion Coffee consumption seems generally safe within usual levels of intake, with summary estimates indicating largest risk reduction for various health outcomes at three to four cups a day, and more likely to benefit health than harm. Robust randomised controlled trials are needed to understand whether the observed associations are causal. Importantly, outside of pregnancy, existing evidence suggests that coffee could be tested as an intervention without significant risk of causing harm. Women at increased risk of fracture should possibly be excluded.

Another review from 2017 - looking at impacts on health generally writes https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28675917

For adults consuming moderate amounts of coffee (3 - 4 cups/d providing 300 - 400 mg/d of caffeine), there is little evidence of health risks and some evidence of health benefits. This review provides up-to-date information about coffee on health. Topics addressed include the cardiovascular system, liver diseases, and diabetes as well as gastrointestinal disorders.

In both cases, you can see the consensus, when looking at a variety of areas that are related to "health" suggest coffee is pretty ok.

Now if you want you can look into specific correlations like coffee and different types of cancer (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/?term=coffee+cancer) - where intriguingly even here some work shows cancer cells in for instance collorectal cancer (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5386640/) are inhibited by coffee - but that's if you get really intrigued with the topic.

Hope that helps empower your coffee journey

Main take away: if you see an ineresting news article making a claim about science - try to follow back to the original article being referenced and check out at least the abstract, and if you can the full article - in particular the conclusion.

All the best -m.c.

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