July 30, 2017

Coffee news?

In 2015, the Herald said

Drinking the caffeine equivalent of more than four espressos a day is harmful to health, especially for minors and pregnant women, the European Union food safety agency has said.

“It is the first time that the risks from caffeine from all dietary sources have been assessed at EU level,” the EFSA said, recommending that an adult’s daily caffeine intake remain below 400mg a day.

(I quoted it at the time: the link seems to be dead now).

Now we have, under the headline Good news for coffee lovers: Caffeine is harmless, says research

A review of 44 trials dispelled the widespread myth that caffeine, found in tea, coffee and fizzy drinks, is bad for the body.

It found that sticking to the recommended daily amount of 400mg – the equivalent four cups of coffee or eight cups of tea – has no lasting damage on the body.

The recommendation that 400mg/day is generally safe was described as ‘caffeine is dangerous’ in 2015 and ‘caffeine is harmless’ now.

Other not-news about this is the not-new research. Obviously the Daily Mail (the only link) isn’t a research source. The research was published in Complete Nutrition, a professional magazine for UK dieticians. As their website says

Each issue of CN is packed with articles which are practical, educational and topical, and all are written by independent, well-respected authors from across the profession.

That’s a valuable mission for a journal, but it would be surprising if an expert opinion article in a journal like that contained new research worth international headlines.


Thomas Lumley (@tslumley) is Professor of Biostatistics at the University of Auckland. His research interests include semiparametric models, survey sampling, statistical computing, foundations of statistics, and whatever methodological problems his medical collaborators come up with. He also blogs at Biased and Inefficient See all posts by Thomas Lumley »