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Your Coffee Could Be a Disease Influencer for One of These Three Medical Conditions

Timothy Boyer Ph.D.'s picture
Evidence of coffee related disease might be in your hands.

Recent research suggests that if you have any of these three medical conditions in your family medical history, the coffee you drink could increase your genetic risk of developing one of the diseases.


There’s little doubt and a significant amount of research that supports the notion that coffee is good for your health: It is believed to help prevent cancer; keeps us living longer; and, has a calming effect that many of us need to keep from going mental.

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But when it comes to health risks instead of benefits, the advice out there appears to be solely focused on caffeine toxicity and the to-be-pitied individuals who are genetically susceptible to lactose intolerance and sensitivity to even the smallest amounts of caffeine.

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This may change, however. According to a recent study reported by the University of Australia and published in the journal Clinical Nutrition, excess coffee consumption can cause poor health associated with a few specific disease conditions that may run in your family.

Taking advantage of a relatively new way of analyzing already-collected data—referred to as phenome-wide association study (PheWAS)—researchers number crunched a large amount of data from over 300,000 participants in the UK Biobank repository to determine a genetic risk score associating drinking coffee with multiple possible disease outcomes. Especially when too much coffee (over 6 cups) are drank daily.

“Typically, the effects of coffee consumption are investigated using an observational approach, where comparisons are made against non-coffee-drinkers. But this can deliver misleading results,” says genetic epidemiologist, Director of the Australian Centre for Precision Health and the study’s leader, Professor Elina Hyppönen. “In this study, we used a genetic approach…to establish the true effects of coffee consumption against 1117 clinical conditions.”

What the researchers found was that too much coffee can increase the risk of a person of developing any one of three conditions: osteoarthritis, arthropathy, and obesity.

Osteoarthritis typically is identified as a condition that affects the whole joint including bone, cartilage, ligaments and muscles. Currently, it is viewed as the result of when joints under significant repetitive stress respond by working extra hard to repair itself.

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Arthropathy on the other hand, is a collective term for any disease of the joints associated with particular diseases.

And obesity? Well…if you don’t know what obesity is by now, then you are drinking way too much of something other than coffee.

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According to the University of Australia news release, Professor Hyppönen believes that the prevalence of these three conditions demonstrates the importance of investigating possible causes and influencers of diseases, as may apply to the ubiquitous practice of drinking coffee—and lots of it; up to 3 billion cups of coffee globally each day.

“Excess coffee consumption can lead to increased risks of certain diseases,” states Professor Hyppönen. “For people with a family history of osteoarthritis or arthritis, or for those who are worried about developing these conditions, these results should act as a cautionary message…the body generally sends powerful messages with respect to coffee consumption, so it’s imperative that individuals listen to these when consuming coffee.”

While the new findings may appear to put a damper on the overall view of coffee as a health drink, Professor Hyppönen points out that their findings also offer continued support for drinking coffee.

“While these results are in many ways reassuring in terms of general coffee consumption, the message we should always remember is consume coffee in moderation—that’s the best bet to enjoy your coffee and good health too.”

Approach Your Coffee Like A Shave In The Morning

Timothy Boyer has a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Arizona. For 20+ years he has been employed as a freelance health and science writer. Timothy continues writing about science with a focus on the connection between coffee and healthy living. For continual updates about the benefits of coffee on your health, you can also follow Timothy on Twitter at TimBoyerWrites.

Images courtesy of Pixabay


Excess coffee consumption a culprit for poor health” University of Australia May 2020.

Association between habitual coffee consumption and multiple disease outcomes: A Mendelian randomization phenome-wide association study in the UK Biobank” Konstance Nicolopoulos et al. Clinical Nutrition; Published: March 13, 2020 DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clnu.2020.03.009