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Dietitians look at health effects of coffee


October 21, 1999
Web posted at: 12:21 p.m. EDT (1621 GMT)

From Medical Correspondent Linda Ciampa

(CNN) -- Millions of Americans jump start their day with a cup of coffee, but what are the health effects of this morning ritual? That is the question being discussed at this week's American Dietetic Association's (ADA) meeting in Atlanta.

"The research shows us that moderation which is about three cups of coffee a day is fine. It does not cause disease," said ADA's Edith Howard Hogan.

While it is unlikely that coffee will cause cancer, heart disease or osteoporosis, there are a few reasons some people should cut back on their intake.

For instance, studies have shown drinking more than three cups of coffee a day may affect a woman's fertility and increase pregnant women's risk of early delivery. And while the evidence in humans is inconclusive, caffeine has been shown to cause birth defects in rats.


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Also to be considered is caffeine's impact on mood and sleep. Dr. John Hughes of the University of Vermont and others say the substance is addictive and for some people, as little as a cup of coffee a day is too much.

"If you have anxiety or insomnia, it's very important to look at your caffeine intake and cut down on your caffeine and see if that makes it better, because this is an easy fix," said Hughes.

But stopping cold turkey is not always easy, some people experience withdrawal symptoms including headaches and cramps.

Experts say caffeine is something that should be given up slowly. The best way to quit is by reducing the number of cups of coffee you drink each day, or diluting the full strength coffee with a decaffeinated version. As you slowly reduce intake the caffeine craving will disappear.

A chat about how the coffee bean transformed our world
August 18, 1999
A drink a day keeps the Grim Reaper away
December 10, 1997
Coffee may not be all bad for you

American Dietetic Association
University of Vermont
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