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Can caffeine improve my health?

For many years, doctors have pointed to caffeine's negative effects on the nervous system. It can increase anxiety, stress and food cravings and, of course, can inhibit sleep. Recent studies, however, have shown that caffeine may have some significant medical benefits.

Harvard University conducted one of the most thorough and exhaustive studies to determine caffeine's effect on the body. They examined 126,000 people over an 18-year period. Findings indicate that people who said they drink one to three cups of coffee daily are up to 9 percent less likely to become diabetic. For those who drank six or more cups of coffee: men slashed their chances of becoming diabetic by 54 percent, and women by 30 percent.
Studies conducted elsewhere have shown similar results:
  • Two cups daily give you 20 percent less risk of colon cancer.
  • Regular coffee drinkers have 80 percent less risk of developing Parkinson's disease.
  • Two cups a daily prevents gallstone development by 50 percent.
  • Caffeine has also been shown to have benefits in treating asthma, boosting mood, stopping headaches and even preventing cavities.
  • Two cups a day result an 80 percent drop in cirrhosis.
The Byrd Alzheimer's Institute in Tampa, Fla., found that lab mice injected with caffeine had a protection against developing Alzheimer's disease and even helped reduce symptoms in those that already had the disease. Doctors believe that up to five cups of coffee a daily could have the same positive effect on humans.

A study in July 2007, at Rutgers University, showed that regular exercise combined with daily doses of caffeine increases the destruction of pre-cancerous skin cells in mice.

Despite recent findings, most doctors still recommend moderation in your caffeine intake. These recent studies give hope to those hooked on their morning cup of joe but there is still a long way to go to determine long- term effects of caffeine use.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.