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Alcohol, Coffee, and the Case for Moderation

by Hanson Medical Systems

We often hear that moderation is the key to everything. When it comes to diet, new information about how we should be eating makes headlines on a daily basis, and much of what we learn seems to contradict claims published the week before. One day dairy is bad, the next soy. All the changing advice is enough to make anyone’s head spin, but recent studies show that moderation is what really matters. This is especially true when it comes to controversial diet choices like coffee and alcohol consumption.

Why Coffee and Alcohol Have a Bad Reputation

Coffee primarily gets a bad name due to its high concentration of caffeine. For most people, up to 400 milligrams of caffeine per day is safe, which is roughly the amount of four cups of coffee. However, when drinking more than four cups of coffee or combining them with other caffeinated favorites like sodas and energy drinks, side effects like insomnia, anxiety, and fast heart rate become troublesome.

The details of whether coffee itself is actually bad for your health or not are still up for debate. Recent studies have shown a correlation between high coffee intake and increased prostate cancer and cirrhosis rates. However, other studies claim the drink has health benefits like protection against liver cancer and Parkinson’s disease.

Alcohol, on the other hand, contributes to a range of dangerous diseases and its risks are well known. Heavy alcohol consumption is linked to conditions like anemia, cancer, dementia, heart disease, and depression (just to name a few). That does not even begin to include the risks of alcoholism, drunk driving, and binge drinking (a problem university wellness programs are desperately trying to tackle on America’s college campuses).

How The 90+ Study is Changing What We Know

Dr. Claudia Kawas, professor of neurobiology at the University of California Irvine, started The 90+ Study in 2003 with the hopes of understanding lifestyle choices that contribute to longevity. After gathering decades of information about the diet, activity levels, medical history, and more of individuals over 90, Dr. Kawas revealed some stunning results.

Individuals who drank coffee and alcohol in moderation lived well into their 90s, and in fact, outlived individuals who abstained from these substances altogether. According to Dr. Kawas, caffeine intake of 200 to 400 milligrams per day (well within what is considered safe for adult consumption) was the “sweet spot.” While numerous other studies have shown that coffee and alcohol have some health benefits, there is not yet a solid explanation for why they play a role in longevity.

Will it Work for You?

Although the results of The 90+ Study are promising for individuals who love their morning cup of Joe, or an after-work glass of wine, the keyword when it comes to these drinks is moderation. If you want to know more about how coffee and alcohol impact your personal health, develop a primary health care strategy. Speak to your doctor, take part in routine health screening services, and get involved in your local office wellness programs. Make it a point to understand how your diet impacts your personal health and learn what you can do to live a healthy lifestyle.


All the information that is thrown at us on a daily basis about how we should live our lives is overwhelming. Rather than try to sort through all of the conflicting data, approach health with moderation in mind. This will not only be good for your body but for your mind too. The 90+ Study is revolutionizing what we know about longevity. You can indulge in coffee and alcohol and make it to your 90s, but don’t forget to stick with your doctor and embrace health screening promotion too!

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