Dr. Roach, I switched from caffeinated to decaffeinated Swiss water process coffee about two years ago. I switched to decaf because I was experiencing dizziness when I got out of bed in the middle of the night to use the restroom. Although the dizziness was brief, it was unsettling. My doctor suggested that I switch to decaf, as caffeine could have been the culprit. I only drink one cup of coffee per day in the morning, but I decided to switch anyway. Indeed, my dizzy spells ceased. Is this decaf coffee, or any decaf coffee, equivalent to regular coffee in terms of health benefits? I’ve read that caffeinated coffee has a number of health benefits, including lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, certain cancers, and diabetes, as well as possibly protecting the liver. While I’m not 100% certain, is it the caffeine that provides the benefits?
Regular and decaf coffee drinkers have a lower risk of heart disease than nondrinkers. Additionally, coffee consumption has been linked to a decreased risk of Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, alcoholic cirrhosis, and gout. Caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee consumption is also associated with a decreased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Overall, coffee drinkers do not have a lower risk of cancer than nondrinkers.
What is unknown is whether drinking coffee is responsible for these benefits. It is possible that coffee drinkers exhibit additional behaviours that contribute to these benefits. Not all studies have demonstrated a benefit, but the largest study indicates a 16% reduction in the risk of all-cause mortality associated with coffee consumption.
Caffeine consumption at high doses may cause short-term adverse effects such as headache, anxiety, tremors, and insomnia, depending on prior caffeine use patterns. Chronic caffeine users are less susceptible to caffeine’s adverse behavioural effects than non-users. Caffeine withdrawal symptoms can occur when caffeine consumption is abruptly discontinued.