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The Good News of coffee Consumption.. and the Bad, Bad News.

First.. the Good News about drinking Coffee.

The benefits of coffee consumption have long been questioned, but now a new group of experts have given it the thumbs up – at least for one issue.

A review of studies published in the journal Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics says that increasing coffee intake could help reduce the chances of developing alcohol-related cirrhosis.

To examine the relationship between coffee consumption and the risk of cirrhosis, a research team from Southampton University, analyzed nine studies involving more than 430,000 participants.   The studies included 1,990 cirrhosis patients.   The length of the studies varied, but one lasted nearly 20 years.

In eight of the nine studies analyzed, increasing coffee consumption by two cups per day was “associated with a statistically significant reduction in the risk of cirrhosis” – specifically by 44%.

And.. compared to no coffee consumption, researchers noted approximately one cup per day was linked to 22% lower risk of cirrhosis, three cups helped decrease the risk by 57%, and four cups significantly dropped the risk to 65%. “However, there may be an upper limit beyond which there is no further benefit,” expressed Kennedy.   Nevertheless, the researchers cautioned caffeine enthusiasts not to immediately load up on fancy lattes and sugar-laden frappes.

It’s not yet clear what compound in coffee or even which type of coffee bean leads to a healthier liver.   The team noted that the potential link between coffee’s health benefits and cirrhosis isn’t a new discovery; however, health care professionals often find this a difficult concept to accept.   Additionally, researchers expressed some of the studies reviewed did not account for other risk factors for cirrhosis, like obesity and diabetes.

Now for the Bad News

Chlorine in your coffee water has a dirty little secret. When chlorinated water meets organic matter like coffee grounds, or even tea, it forms carcinogenic trihalomethanes. So unless you have a water filter that removes chlorine and its even nastier alter ego, chloramines, you’re ingesting carcinogens with every sip.

Here’s the conversation we overheard from top water quality specialists from around the world on LinkedIn.


Franz Dillard: “Dear All,
I suppose many of us drink coffee or tea using tap water without removing chlorine from it and we do it every day. I was wondering if the process of coffee or tea making could produce THMs when using chlorinated drinking water?

~ THMs (Trihalomethanes) are carcinogens, byproducts of the reaction between chlorine and organic matter in water.
~ Drinking water has a free chlorine concentration from 0.2 to 0.5 mg/L and coffee or tea are a concentrate of organic matter.
~ During the water treatment process, we avoid the production of THMs by removing as much organic matter as we can before chlorinating the water.
~ But with the coffee or tea preparation process, we put chlorinated water in contact with a concentrate of organic matter.

Studies include this one and this one. There may be more.
And don’t think you can just switch to tea. Look at this:

Owen Boyd : FYI..Trihalomethanes (THMs) are suspected carcinogens and reproductive toxicants commonly found in chlorinated drinking water. This study investigates THM formation during the preparation of beverages and foods using chlorinated drinking water.
A total of 11 foods and 17 beverages were tested. Under the experimental conditions, each food and beverage formed THMs, primarily chloroform, although low or trace levels of brominated THMs were also detected. Tea formed the highest THM levels (e.g., chloroform levels from 3 to 67 microg l(-1)), followed by coffee (from 3 to 13 microg l(-1)), rice (9 microg l(-1)), soups (from 0.4 to 3.0 microg l(-1)), vegetables (<1 microg l(-1)), and baby food (<0.7 microg l(-1)). Chloroform formationwith instant tea, used as a highly reproducible model system, increased with free chlorine concentration, decreased with higher food (tea) concentration, and was unaffected by reaction (steeping) time and bromide ion concentration.

Erik Desormeaux There is not always a silver bullet in terms of water distribution or food and beverage. TTHM’s are just a fraction of the disinfection byproducts that can be of concern. When not utilized properly, Ozone can create bromate that exceeds regulated levels and chloramines can lead to NDMA and other nitrosamines with potential risks that we do not yet fully understand. So the best solution will likely be different at different places based on specific needs.
Also, cold brewed coffee is becoming a popular way of making coffee without boiling.

Hoda Tafvizi I think the best idea is using a filtering device on the tap including activated carbon filter and then you can be sure about THMs!

Ian: Now here’s the silver lining to this bad news. It’s a secret Brita and other filter jug sellers definitely DON’t want you to know!

Thierry Minguet Just put tap water in an open bottle in your fridge. After about half an hour, the chlorine dissolved in the water , maintained in solution under pressure in the pipes, will evolue into gazeous chlorine and evaporate Under atmospheric pressure. Hold the water into the fridge to avoid an infection under room temperature. Don’t hold the water for a long time. Use/replace it. Very cheaper and tasty, not only for coffee.

Moustafa Hedayah Before I make my tea and coffee I  boil the water ,,, and that will remove Chlorine gas in case if you don’t have carbon filter.

Richard Ebong There is need for in depth and independent study on this subject. The effect might vary with geographical location and race.

Joy Montgomery How much do bleached coffee filters add?

John Robertson If we were to drink 10 cups (2L) of water from a tap or 10 cups (2L) of boiled water from the same tap per day which would be safer. Safe water needs to be available to the broad population which economically precludes carbon filtration at the point of consumption.

Ian: So.. we’ve learned that if we consume a sixpack of beer a day, it’s a good idea to drink coffee.
But if we do.. we’re ingesting a  known carcinogen.
Strange world. Here’s my tuppence worth.

1. If you have a coffee maker, see if the water tank in it is vented. If it is, you’re lucky, becasue as discussed here, chlorine is a gas and will ‘outgas’ from your coffee maker water if it has sufficient surface area.

2. Ring your local council to see if they are using cheap n’ nasty chloramine. This is a mix of ammonia and chlorine which does NOT outgas, but still has the same effect on organics like tea leaves and coffee grounds.

3. If you bought a water filter jug to remove chlorine you were gypped. As you’ve seen here, the chlorine will outgas anyway.

4. Want a better coffee anyway? A good water filter like the UltraStream will remove a far greater range of contaminants and it will alkalize the water, making it take up coffee flavour better. You’ll get more from your coffee dollars and enjoy it more. just like us here at home.

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