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Depending on your genetics, excess coffee consumption could ‘increase risk of arthritis and obesity’

Runner's World UK logo Runner's World UK 22/05/2020 Rick Pearson
a close up of a bottle and a glass of wine: A new Australian study suggests too many coffees and certain genetics can lead to various health conditions for certain people © Photographer, Basak Gurbuz Derman - Getty Images A new Australian study suggests too many coffees and certain genetics can lead to various health conditions for certain people

If coffee has been a constant companion during the lockdown, it might be worth looking again at your caffeine consumption. A new study suggests too many cups can be a culprit for poor health.

The research, from the University of South Australia’s Australian Centre for Precision Health, suggests that it all comes down to genetics: anyone with a family history of osteoarthritis, arthropathy (joint disease) or obesity may be best to sit out a few of the coffee rounds.

Using data from over 300,000 participants in the UK Biobank, researchers looked at connections between habitual coffee consumption and a full range of diseases, finding that too much coffee can increase the risk of the aforementioned conditions

In earlier research conducted by genetic epidemiologist Professor Elina Hyppönen and team, six cups of coffee a day was considered the upper limit of safe consumption.

‘Globally, we drink around three billion cups of coffee each day,’ said Professor Hyppönen, ‘so it makes sense to explore the pros and cons of this on our health.

‘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.

‘In this study, we used a genetic approach – called MR-PheWAS analysis – to establish the true effects of coffee consumption against 1,117 clinical conditions.’

Coffee, of course, has also been proven to boost running performance and is a pre-race staple for many. It’s worth stating that this latest research is looking at the effect of ‘excessive’ coffee consumption. One or two cups a day will not damage your health; in fact, there’s some evidence to suggest moderate coffee consumption could actually help you to live longer.

‘Reassuringly, our results suggest that, moderate coffee drinking is mostly safe,’ says Professor Hyppönen. ‘But it also showed that habitual coffee consumption increased the risks of three diseases – osteoarthritis, arthropathy and obesity – which can cause significant pain and suffering for individuals with these conditions.

‘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.

‘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.’

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