How Many Cups of Coffee Should You Drink Per Day?

A cost-benefit analysis

by Alice Robb | November 21, 2013

The research on the health effects of coffee is hardly cohesive. Is it good or bad for you? The American Heart Association is just the latest to support the former, with new evidence that coffee may improve cardiovascular health. We’ve rounded up some studies so you can do your own cost-benefit analysis.

The good

—Drinking four or more cups of coffee per day could lower your risk of colon cancer by 15 percent.

—Drinking two to three cups a day could reduce your risk of developing Parkinson’s by a quarter.

—Having at least four cups a day may lower your risk of depression by 20 percent.

—Drinking three cups a day may reduce your risk of ovarian cancer by 20 percent.

—Three cups a day may cut your risk of liver cancer in half.

—Drinking six cups a day could has been shown to lower the risk of skin cancer by 31 percent.

The bad

—Drinking more than four cups a day has been associated with a 56% higher risk of death.

—Drinking five daily cups of unfiltered coffee may raise cholesterol by 6 to 8 percent

—Drinking four cups a day has been linked with a 2 to 4 percent decrease in bone density.

—“Acute ingestion of caffeine … equivalent to the amount found in 2-3 cups of coffee … results in a short-term stimulation of urine output…”

So if you’re more worried about liver cancer than your cholesterol levels, drink up. If your fear of weak bones exceeds your fear of depression, cut back. But don’t think too hard: Thinking could turn into ruminating—and ruminating quadruples your risk of depression. If the above studies are any indication, you should drink exactly three cups a day—no more, no less.

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