The risks and benefits of coffee consumption

A new study from the Mayo Clinic draws a connection between heavy coffee consumption and an increased risk of death in men and women under 55.

The study surveyed 43,727 people between the ages of 20 and 87 between 1971 and 2002.

It defines a heavy coffee drinker as someone who consumes over 28 cups of eight-to-ten ounces of coffee each week.

Holts Summit resident Deborah Lansford said her husband used to drink a lot of coffee, until doctors told him he had to stop.

"He woke up in the morning, made a big pot, drank some there and he made a pot to take to work with him and he drank on it all day. Three years ago we found out he had chronic pancreatitis, and they told him he had to cut out caffeine," she said.

Heather Heberle, a licensed dietitian at Capital Region Medical Center, acknowledged that caffeine can cause increased anxiety, anxiousness and high blood pressure. But she said those symptoms usuall occur in people who have just started drinking coffee, not those who have for years.

In fact, Heberle said coffee can have a positive impact on the body.

"Reduce your risk for diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular is very high in antioxidants which can be very heart-healthy for you," Heberle said.

Heberle also said the study did not take into account the way people prepare their coffee.

"Is it black? Does it have cream? Does it have sugar? A lot of these things that we know aren't healthy for us," she said.

She also said the study didn't look into the participants' diets and lifestyle.

Kenneth Whitfield works at Cafe Via Roma in Jefferson City and said that he definitely sees people who fit the description of heavy coffee drinker.

However, he said that what they order is as important as how much.

"Regular brewed coffees, I would say, are the lesser of evils. When you go into espresso, lattes, those are really strong coffees and a lot of people will get extra shots on top of those," Whitfield said.