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National Institutes Of Health Discovers Protective Effects Of Coffee

September 2012

By Kirk Stokel

Coffee May Cut Cancer Risk

Coffee May Cut Cancer Risk

Coffee, especially brews enriched with chlorogenic acid, protect cells against the DNA damage that leads to aging and cancer development.9-11 That explains in part the findings from large epidemiological studies linking coffee consumption to lower risk for several cancer types. 27,43-47

Women with the highest coffee intake are about 30% less likely to develop endometrial cancer than those who consume none.44 Some studies show an enhanced effect among obese women.43,46

Breast cancer, the second leading cause of cancer death among American women, appears to be responsive to coffee consumption. A 57% reduction in the risk of estrogen-receptor negative (ER-negative, high risk) breast cancers was shown among women who drank 5 or more cups of coffee daily.27 Chlorogenic acid and other polyphenols, according to lab studies, are the likely beneficial agents in such cancers.47

Men also receive important cancer protection from coffee. While prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men,48 consumption of more than 6 cups of coffee per day is associated with an 18% reduction in risk for the disease, and a 60% reduction in risk of aggressive or fatal cancers.26

"Heavy" coffee drinking has been associated in multiple studies with as much as a 57% reduced incidence of colon cancers.49-53 Coffee and its constituents target specific cancer cell signaling systems to suppress colon cancer formation and metastasis.45

Cancers elsewhere in the digestive system are reduced by coffee consumption. A mere one cup daily was associated with at least a 42% reduction in risk of developing liver cancer- even for those with confounding risk factors such as hepatitis C infection.28,54-56 Additionally, consuming at least one cup per day of coffee reduced the risk of death due to liver cancer by 50% compared to non drinkers.57 And more than 3 cups produced a 40% reduction in the risk of cancers of the mouth, throat, and esophagus.58, 59

New Polyphenol-Retaining Coffees Boost Health Benefits

Green, unroasted coffee beans are extremely rich in the polyphenols, especially chlorogenic acid, that improve health. But prior to consumption as brewed coffee, the beans are roasted at high temperatures (375 to 425 degrees Fahrenheit).

These extreme temperatures destroy an enormous amount of the beneficial polyphenols, leaving standard supermarket coffee substantially less healthful than it could be.

A new, patented technique has recently been developed that preserves much of the green coffee bean’s original polyphenol content. Under controlled conditions, the manufacturer first soaks green coffee beans in water, then drains them before roasting.

Soaking the beans before roasting allows the manufacturer to "capture" the polyphenols at room temperature before the beans are exposed to hightemperature roasting. When the beans are "quenched" after roasting by being dropped back into the polyphenol-rich water, much of their original polyphenol content is "rescued."12

The result of this simple process is a roasted coffee bean with all the flavor and richness of regular coffee, but with a substantial increase in its content of polyphenols, especially chlorogenic acid. In fact, the final brewed beverage has been found to contain as much as an 80% increase in polyphenols overall, with an astonishing 200% increase in chlorogenic acid content.12

What’s the advantage of this extra step? Studies show that, for maximum health benefit, you need to drink 4 to 12 cups of conventional coffee daily. 2,23-35 That's a lot of coffee for many people, and consumption at that level may induce undesirable effects. These newer "polyphenol-retaining" coffees, with twice the chlorogenic acid content, could deliver similar benefits in only half the number of cups.

Coffee Consumption Slashes Diabetes Risk

Cups of Coffee a day
Cups of Coffee a day

Figure 1: Coffee has shown to have protective effects on cognitive decline particularly for the elderly. In a study of nearly 700 individuals with an average age of 75, the least cognitive decline was observed with consumption of 3 cups of coffee per day, which was associated with a remarkable 4.3-times smaller level of decline in cognitive function compared with non-consumers of coffee (P<0.001.)36

Large reductions in the occurrence of type 2 diabetes are associated with higher coffee consumption.21 If you aren't already diabetic, you may be able to cut your risk by an impressive 67% by drinking larger amounts of coffee.60

How much more coffee? A large, combined study of data on more than 450,000 people showed that each additional daily cup reduced diabetes risk by 7%.29 Other studies support this finding with reductions of 13% for one cup/day, 47% for 4 cups/day, and 67% for 12 cups/day.60, 61

Even if you do have diabetes, coffee is likely to be beneficial. Chlorogenic acid, coffee's primary polyphenol, inhibits uptake of sugar from the intestine, reducing blood sugar levels.62 By inhibiting several enzymes in the sugar-regulating system, chlorogenic acid reduces production and release of new glucose into the bloodstream.63, 64

Of special importance, coffee's chlorogenic acid can cut the after-meal glucose surge that's known to increase diabetics' (and others') cardiovascular risks.63,64 Other components in coffee enhance this effect by reducing carbohydrate storage and improving insulin sensitivity.65

Coffee Consumption Protects Against Cardiovascular Disease

Coffee was long thought to increase the risks for high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease, but like everything else related to coffee, this has changed abruptly in recent years.

Three Coffees a Day May Ward Off Dementia

A study in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease reports that drinking coffee may help at-risk adults over age 65 fend off Alzheimer's disease due to the elevated blood caffeine levels.73

The study involved 124 patients between the ages of 65 and 88 who displayed mild cognitive impairment, which can be interpreted as an early sign of Alzheimer's. No patients with blood caffeine levels above 1,200 ng/mL developed the disease over a 2-4 year period, even though the scientists expected many of the participants to develop the disease within a few years. The major or only source of caffeine for the participants was coffee.

The lead author of the study, Chuanhai Cao, stated, "The results from this study, along with our earlier studies on Alzheimer's in mice, are very consistent in indicating that moderate daily caffeine/coffee intake throughout adulthood should appreciably protect against Alzheimer's disease later in life."

The scientists are careful to point out that coffee consumption will not completely protect people from Alzheimer's, but they firmly believe moderate coffee consumption can reduce a person's risk of Alzheimer's or delay its onset.

The "secret ingredient," not surprisingly, turns out to be chlorogenic acid. This compound, which can be increased in enriched coffees improves endothelial function and increases availability of artery-relaxing nitric oxide, which reduces any blood pressure increase triggered by caffeine.66 In 2011, a large combination study concluded that there's no correlation between long-term coffee consumption and increased blood pressure or cardiovascular disease.67

The beneficial effects of chlorogenic acid (and other coffee components) are evident from large observational studies. Deaths from cardiovascular disease overall, and from coronary heart disease and stroke, are all significantly reduced by coffee consumption.68,69 Table 2 shows results from one such study of diabetics, who are at especially high risk. Again, the risk reduction seems to be "dose-dependent," meaning that up to a point, the more coffee you drink, the lower your risk.

But there's an important caveat.

If you look at both tables 1 and 2, you'll see that the optimum risk reduction occurs mainly in people who drink somewhere around 4 to 6 cups daily. That makes the newer "polyphenol-retaining" coffees all the more attractive, because they can deliver a much more substantial polyphenol "punch" per cup, potentially avoiding any downside risk associated with very high total consumption.

Studies show a 33% reduction in the risk of dangerous blood clots that can travel from veins to the lungs or brain with devastating consequences.70 And just one cup of coffee can reduce the risk of clots in general, by inhibiting platelet aggregation (stickiness) within an hour.71

The mechanisms by which coffee consumption reduces cardiovascular disease are many and diverse. Polyphenols found in coffee enhance cholesterol outflow from arterial wall cells, reducing the risk of plaque formation and subsequent heart attack or stroke.9

Coffee extracts rich in polyphenols combat the dangerous structural changes in heart and liver associated with the metabolic syndrome, as they improve glucose tolerance, reduce blood pressure, and impede development of fatty liver disease.72

TABLE 2: Cardiovascular Risk Reduction From Coffee Drinking
Cups of Coffee/Day Total Cardiovascular Coronary Heart Disease Stroke
0-2 No Reduction No Reduction No Reduction No Reduction
3-4 23% 21% 22% 23%
5-6 32% 30% 30% 36%
7 or more 30% 29% 37% 10%

TABLE 2: A study of diabetic adults, at high risk for cardiovascular deaths, found substantial reduction in risk of dying from any cause, as well as from three major forms of cardiovascular disease.68 Note the slight decrease in protection seen at the very highest levels; this indicates a role for polyphenol-enhanced coffees with double the chlorogenic acid content.


After years of suspecting coffee of having negative impacts on health, scientists have now concluded that it has remarkable health benefits. Most strikingly, a recent study demonstrated sharp reductions in the risks of dying from any cause, in direct proportion to the amount of coffee consumed. This study comes on the heels of numerous others that demonstrate reduced risk of dying from specific diseases such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and neurodegenerative disorders.

Coffee Consumption Protects Against Cardiovascular Disease

Detailed analysis of coffee's many components reveals that polyphenols, especially chlorogenic acid, are the main contributors to coffee's beneficial effects.

Since conventional roasting processes readily destroy these compounds, it's important to seek out coffees that retain the maximum amount of polyphenol content. That way, you can enhance your health without the over consumption of coffee. Those who cannot tolerate coffee should consider taking 200 to 400 mg of standardized chlorogenic acid supplement before most meals.

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Health Advisor at 1-866-864-3027.