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A few cups of coffee a day may keep pancreatic issues away
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A few cups of coffee a day may keep pancreatic issues away

According to some studies, the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of coffee can help reduce the risk of pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer

As per some studies, coffee can reduce the risk of pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer

Having a hot cup of coffee to kickstart the day is routine for many. However, apart from its stimulating effects, coffee can also offer some health benefits — one of them being a reduced risk of pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer.

Coffee and pancreas health

Pancreatitis is a condition where the pancreas — a gland located in the abdomen that produces digestive enzymes and hormones like insulin — gets inflamed. It is primarily caused by heavy alcohol consumption or gallstones. Several studies have reported that consuming coffee can help reduce the risk of this condition. A meta-analysis published in the journal Digestive Diseases and Sciences noted that heavy coffee drinkers were found to have a reduced risk of pancreatitis.

Coffee consumption may also have an anticarcinogenic effect. Another meta-analysis published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology observed that it can reduce the incidence of pancreatic cancer. According to experts, the possible reasons for these positive effects of coffee could be its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Dr Kavya Dendukuri, hepatologist & gastroenterologist, Kamineni Hospitals, Hyderabad, says some studies have also shown that caffeine has chemo-protective effects; it can counteract carcinogenesis (the formation of cancer) by inducing DNA repair. “As pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer are inflammatory states and coffee has anti-inflammatory properties, it may help reduce the risk of these conditions,” she adds.

Is black coffee good for pancreatitis?

Edwina Raj, head of services, clinical nutrition & dietetics, Aster CMI Hospital, Bangalore, says those who have one or two cups of coffee a day can reap its health benefits. “It can be consumed black or with milk. If you take coffee with milk, calcium absorption can be hindered, which is why black coffee is generally recommended,” she says, adding that more than three to four cups is considered high coffee intake.

Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, coffee is also said to reduce the risk of obesity and diabetes, thereby lowering the risk of pancreatitis. However, this does not mean that people should drink excessive coffee to prevent diabetes and obesity, cautions Raj. “Excessive intake of coffee can also lead to high blood pressure and an altered heart rate, so mild to moderate intake is better,” she adds. According to Dr Dendukuri, two cups of black coffee per day is advisable for those with obesity and fatty liver disease to help reduce fat in the liver, provided there are no contraindications (symptoms or conditions that increase the risk of an adverse reaction), such as palpitations or migraine.

Is it okay to drink coffee during a pancreatitis episode?

Coffee is also a diuretic, meaning it can flush out water from the body and cause dehydration. Hence, it is not usually recommended for those diagnosed with pancreatitis. Dr Dendukuri says, “Pancreatitis itself reduces fluid levels in the body, and caffeine can cause further dehydration. So, when there’s an episode of pancreatitis, I will recommend avoiding caffeine. It should also be avoided before or when known to have a pancreatitis episode.”

While there’s research regarding the benefits of coffee for pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer, experts say that they aren’t definitive studies based on large populations. In addition, there’s no proper evidence to suggest that caffeine can reduce their risks. Hence, further research is required to establish a link between the two.

Takeaways

  • Several studies have shown that having a lot of coffee can help reduce the risk of pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer owing to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • However, experts say further research is required to establish the link between coffee consumption and the risk of these pancreatic complications.
  • According to experts, one or two cups of coffee per day can be beneficial for overall health. However, excessive coffee intake (more than three to four cups) can cause high blood pressure and an altered heart rate.

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