I started drinking a morning cup of coffee about Labor Day, 2005, when I was making daily pre-dawn trips to visit a relative in the hospital. Since then, I’ve wondered about the health effects of coffee and caffeine.

I’d like to share an article, Sorting Out Coffee’s Contradictions, I rediscovered while sorting out some papers.  It was written in 2008 by Jane Brody in The New York Times.

She, in turn, took much of her information from a comprehensive appraisal of scientific reports from the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Does coffee and caffeine dehydrate a person?  Not in moderation. People who drank up to 550 mg of caffeine (90 to 150 mg in a cup) were no more dehydrated than if they had drunk water. Caffeine over 575 mg becomes a diuretic.

Heart disease.  Heart patients, especially those with high blood pressure, are often told to avoid caffeine, a known stimulant. An analysis of 10 studies of more than 400,000 people found no increase in heart disease among daily coffee drinkers.

Bone loss.  If coffee drinkers also consume some milk during the day, the body’s calcium levels will not be adversely affected by caffeine.

Weight loss. Although caffeine speeds up metabolism, no long-term benefits to weight control were noted.

Caffeine can enhance mood and mental and physical performance, at consumption levels up to 200 mg (the amount in about 16 ounces of ordinary brewed coffee). These coffee drinkers reported an improved sense of well-being, happiness, energy, alertness and sociability.  Higher amounts can cause anxiety and stomach upset.

A review of 13 studies found that people who drank caffeinated coffee, but not decaf, had a 30 percent lower risk of Parkinson’s disease.

Another review found that people who drank four to six cups of coffee a day, with or without caffeine,  had a 28 percent lower risk of type 2 diabetes, compared to noncoffee drinkers. That benefit probably comes from coffee’s antioxidants and chlorogenic acid.