Coffee Propaganda

STORY BY Candace Bryan

Published: June 2, 2013

Coffee Propaganda from HYUNJI AJ BAE on Vimeo.

The video above is funny, and it really makes me question how dependent I am on *coffee. It also brings up the eternal question: Is coffee actually good for you? Growing up my parents drilled in my head that drinking coffee would stunt my growth, while my dentist insisted it was horrible for my teeth. Then last year a new study reported that while drinking coffee will stain your teeth, it actually has the potential to make them stronger. It seems like every day there is a new study touting the benefits of coffee, then a study comes out explaining why coffee will kill you. It’s hard to know what to believe, and it’s hard to forget that many studies about coffee are funded by people and companies with a vested interest.

Americans drink a lot of coffee, and as one person who certainly helps those statistics, I optimistically try to focus on the studies that encourage me to keep drinking. Fortunately in today’s news, that’s exactly what I got. In a study recently presented by the Mayo Clinic, coffee may be essential in preventing a rare liver disease known as primary sclerosing cholangitis , or PSC. The findings of the study are by no means conclusive, but they add to a long list of reported benefits of moderate coffee consumption. However, I won’t be shocked if this newsworthy discovery is soon disproved by another study.

It’s true that other studies have shown coffee may reduce your risk for diabetes, skin cancer, oral cancer, and even depression, but it’s notable how much money is poured into these studies, given how basically no one drinks coffee for its health benefits. I imagine if all studies only provided results that painted coffee consumption as unhealthy, we would still consume as much as we do. We drink it for its caffeinating effects, flavor, and because ultimately we are addicted.

It’s similar to sugar. Sugar has only been shown to be harmful to our short-term and long-term health, but Americans consume an absurd amount of the stuff on a daily basis. Even the purported benefits of coffee are largely negated by the fact that most Americans drench their coffee in sugars, flavored syrups, caramel and chocolate.

Sugar and coffee are facts of life in our times, and to avoid them completely is almost impossible. So while I enjoy reading studies that tell me coffee may protect my health, I only hope, not assume, that these studies (even the ones largely funded by coffee companies) are true. Unless I make it my life’s work to uncover the truth, I’ll be at the mercy of those studies. The key, as they say, is moderation, but it’s also important to moderate how much stock we put in studies, given how many other studies may disprove them. Because at the end of the day, coffee is just a drug.

*written while drinking a latte.

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