United Kingdom study once again suggests coffee is quite good for you

Drink up: Three cups of coffee a day 'may have health benefits'

More good news for coffee drinkers: a review of existing studies has found that overall, moderate coffee consumption is tied to a much lower risk of chronic disease. Drinking coffee was also linked to a lower risk of diabetes, liver disease, dementia and some cancers.

The study was conducted by the Universities of Southampton and Edinburgh reviewed more than 200 previous investigations and found the substance is "more likely to benefit health than harm it".

While most researchers can not agree on a definitive list to detail the benefits of coffee, they point out that three cups a day is a safe bet.

Pregnant women, for example, are at greater risk of losing their baby if they drink too much coffee, and the caffeine also slightly raises the risk of bone fractures among women.

But - it is important to note - the studies used mainly observational data, which means lower quality evidence, which means no firm conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect.

Robin Poole, who led the research team, notes "Coffee drinking appears safe within usual patterns of consumption".

This is not the first discovery of coffee's positive benefits.

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Now, four cups per day isn't considered excessive coffee drinking and more in the moderate range, but it is still a pretty sizable amount.

So, the authors urge that "robust randomized controlled trials are needed to understand whether the observed associations are causal". This included lower risk of death from any causes, or getting heart disease.

Decaffeinated coffee has a similar impact to the standard version, they found, suggesting the caffeine is not responsible for health benefits. "Should doctors recommend drinking coffee to prevent disease?"

In an editorial also published in the BMJ, Eliseo Guallar of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health said people should not start drinking coffee for health reasons.

"Factors such as age, whether people smoked or not and how much exercise they took could all have had an effect", Professor Paul Roderick, co-author of the study, told BBC.

But even if there's still a lot we don't know about the link between coffee and our health, this new study offers a wide array of other avenues to explore. "There is a balance of risks in life, and the benefits of moderate consumption of coffee seem to outweigh the risks".

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