Thursday, February 9, 2017

Benefits of Coffee for Women - The Good, the Bad and the Myth

This post will focus on the health benefits of coffee for women, the disadvantages and its many myths. As there are many conflicting reports on this topic, here’s a rundown of some evidence-based findings to clear the air. There's an infographic on this as well that you can print, frame and hang it at your cafe. For men, you can read and get the infographic in a separate post on 'Is coffee good for men' here
benefits of coffee for women

1. Coffee Bad for Women

Do you know that caffeine is more harmful to women than to men? Because women take a longer time to detoxify toxins in their body. Hence, the harmful residuals will affect them more.

Caffeine tolerance will also vary from person to person. It depends on how well her body detoxifies the residues. Hence, 'how long it stays in the body' is a source of concern. Why? Because of these problems:

1.1 Coffee and Pregnancy

If you are already a coffee drinker, then limit your daily intake. According to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, you should limit it to less than 200 milligrams (mg) per day. This is about one cup or 8oz. of brewed coffee.

But to be on the safe side, it is best to lay it off for a while for the following reasons:

Before Conception:

The National Infertility Association says caffeine can prevent proper maturation of an egg. This will affect your chances of being pregnant. If you have trouble conceiving, then it is wise to lay off caffeine.

The risk of miscarriage is also higher. Especially for women who drink two or more cups of coffee weeks before conception. Your baby will also have low birth weight, who might have the following health problems later in life:

  • High blood pressure

  • Heart disease

  • Metabolic syndrome

  • Diabetes

During Pregnancy:

As mentioned earlier, women take a longer time to detoxify. So any residual caffeine will pass to her baby through the placenta. But a fetus cannot metabolize caffeine. This will affect its sleep pattern and in later stages of pregnancy, the movement pattern.

Other side effects of caffeine during pregnancy are:
  • Will increase your heart rate and blood pressure
  • You will feel jittery and have trouble sleeping
  • Possible miscarriage
  • Coffee is a diuretic and will increase the frequency of urination. This may lead to dehydration if your fluid intake is low.

Source: American Pregnancy Association, NCBI caffeine consumption during pregnancy

1.2 Coffee and Teenagers

Based on a report by the National Center for Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, girls between 8 to 22 years old who drink coffee regularly:
  • Have a high chance to smoke (23.2% chance) and drink alcohol (29.5%)
  • Will do so earlier than non-coffee drinkers and their male friends.
This report that covers more than three years of research. It analyzed the characteristics of girls and young women who abuse substances. This includes caffeine in coffee.

The survey covers 1220 girls and young women. All are from elementary schools right through colleges and beyond.

While both boys and girls abuse substances, it is the girls that suffer more. But girls (61.6%) who discussed substance abuse with their parents are less likely to drink, smoke or use drugs.

The report did not state why and how caffeine triggers this behavior pattern.

Parents may find it difficult to control teenagers from drinking caffeinated drinks. The many glitzy and glamorous advertisements for these beverages make it even tougher. But with your support, they can limit the intake.

Source: National Center for Addiction & Substance Abuse

1.3 Coffee and Incontinence in Women

Urinary incontinence or the involuntary leakage of urine is twice as common in women as in men. Some of the reasons for this are due to pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause.

So for women who drink coffee, will the caffeine’s diuretic effect make this matter worse?

Yes, according to the study at the University of Alabama. Women who drink at least three cups a day are 70% more likely to have this problem.

But in another similar study, women who drink three cups or more have only 19% increase in the risk. This is only a slight increase in the risk to have urinary incontinence.

Despite this conflicting evidence, the bottom line is to limit the intake. The safe limit for women who already have this problem is to take only one cup of coffee.

Source: WebMD,  Journal of Urology

Check Caffeine Level in Your Drinks 

Use this table to know the amount of caffeine in your favorite drinks.

(NOTE: 1 cup of coffee = 8 oz.)

caffeine in your drink

2. Health Benefits of Coffee for Women

Coffee is not that bad and is also good for women. There are many health benefits of coffee for women to gain. It is not exclusively a man's Java.

So, let's take a look at these benefits.

2.1 Coffee and Endometrial Cancer

Endometrial cancer or also known as uterine cancer. It is the sixth most common cancer for women worldwide as well as in the United States. This is cancer of the womb that causes abnormal vaginal bleeding.

Treatment can be by surgery to remove the uterus and other affected parts. This includes ovaries and fallopian tubes. Or you can go for radiation therapy.

But you can try a cheaper and easier way. Drink coffee instead!

Coffee can reduce endometrial cancer risk by 22%. The study, funded by the European Commission and the International Agency for Research on Cancer, showed lower risk in women who drink four cups or more. This study¹ was published by the American Association for Cancer Research journal. But there is a need for further study to identify the link between coffee intake and endometrial cancer.

So ladies, enjoy your cup of coffee knowing very well that it may reduce your risk of endometrial cancer.

Source: American Association for Cancer Research

There aren't too many things that can help you make it through the day or save you from the many health issues, like a hot or iced cup of coffee. This Coffee Saves Life T-shirt says it all. So, let the world knows. Or try this tee-Shirt instead.

2.2 Coffee and Menstrual Cramps (PMS)

Earlier studies² suggested an association between the daily intake of coffee with the risk of PMS.  You can find this study by Oregon State University in the September 1990 issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

But further studies done at the University of Massachusetts Amherst showed no relationship. So the current order to reduce caffeine intake will not prevent PMS build-up. This study³ appeared in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition June 2016 edition. The study also confirmed high caffeinated coffee is not associated with PMS risk.

This finding is significant as PMS affects 15-20% of premenopausal women. This is a big number as PMS can affect the quality of their lifestyle.

This is another amazing benefits of coffee for women to take advantage of.

Source: US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health² and American Journal of Clinical Nutrition³

2.3 Coffee and Depression Among Women

Do you know that depression is the most common mental health problem among women?

That it is twice as prevalent in women? This is from the World Health Organization's global study on Women's Mental Health.

And there are reports that link caffeine to depression. Because caffeine can disrupt your sleep pattern and increase your heartbeat.

But the study supported by the National Institutes of Health (USA) showed caffeine can reduce anxiety risk. The ten-year study from 1996 to 2006 showed:

  • 15% decreased risk if two to three cups of coffee is drunk daily.

  • If consumed four or more cups are daily, you see a 20% drop.

Are these findings making you all tense up now? Take a deep breath and stay focus.

With many discrepant reports, this does sound confusing.  So the best bet is to listen to your body. If after trying, it makes you feel worse, then stop drinking or reduce the intake.

Source: NCBI: Caffeine and Risk of Depression Among Women

3. Debunking Coffee Myths

You must have read several conflicting news on why coffee is bad for women. Some of these are even posted on prominent websites. It is thus hard to tell what is true and what is false. So here is the rundown of evidence-based findings to debunk these urban legends.

3.1 Coffee and Breast Size

You read somewhere that caffeine can reduce breast volume. It sounds scary and you stop drinking coffee. If you missed that article, this is what it says:

"The study by researchers at Lund University, Sweden linked drinking more than three cups of coffee daily to a lower breast volume. A reduction of 17% compared to women who drink less. But the study did not conclude if higher intake will further reduce breast volume."

caffeine reduce breast volume

So, is this true?

It seems these were all misinterpreted by various media sources. Including prominent news agencies such as Daily Mail and Fox News. The confusion is from the statement made in the report. The report states participants who drank more coffee ALSO have smaller boobs. But it is not the result of drinking coffee. By coincidence, the volunteers had small breasts! You can read the detail explanation here.

So, ladies, you can continue enjoying your coffee without fear of shrinking boobs.

Source:  British Journal of Cancer 

3.2 Coffee and Osteoporosis

Now, this is a fact and not a myth. That woman is more prone to osteoporosis than man. Hence caffeine intake among women is critical. Why?

Because many studies say caffeine is a risk factor for osteoporotic fracture. That drinking more than three cups of coffee daily can decrease bone density.
Now that statement is a myth.

Studies by Cooper C. and others from Department of Health Sciences Research, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota found otherwise. The study says the evidence is inconsistent.

Instead, their study says caffeine intake is not a risk factor for osteoporosis. BUT there is a significant correlation between age and caffeine intake. That there is a slight increase in bone mineral among younger women. But in elderly women, there is a slight reduction in bone mineral.

Bottom line: Elderly women should lay off caffeine-containing beverages. Especially those with existing poor calcium balance. Others can continue to drink coffee or tea.

Source: NBCI: caffeine risk factor for osteoporosis


These are the benefits of coffee for women to think of. For the bad stuff limit your intake. But check with your doctors before you make any changes to your current caffeine intake.

How much coffee do you drink every day? I am keen to hear your thoughts on how coffee or caffeinated drinks affects you. It can be due to the way you store coffee - check this article on how to store coffee the right way OR it could be on how you prepare coffee.

If you had a bad experience, did you try to give it up?

If you are a cafe owner, do you limit your customers' coffee intake?

Thanks for sharing.  And here's an infographic that you can print, frame and hang in your cafe, house or office. Don't forget to check my other article on 'Is Coffee Good for Men'.


is coffee bad for women


  1. I guess coffee really is a double-edged sword. On one hand it can reduce the risk of getting uterine cancer. But on the other hand, it is harmful to pregnant women and women with depression.

    I wish I knew about this sooner as it explains why I had trouble falling asleep even after the effects should supposedly wear off. Caffeine is after all a type of drug.

    Your info graph on the caffeine quantity in common coffee drinks is a quite useful reference to all coffee drinkers.

  2. Hi, chuw5. Yep, it can be confusing but as I had mentioned in my post, just limit your intake to one cup a day. This should handle both the good and bad part of drinking coffee. Thanks for dropping by and I hope your sleep pattern will get better.

  3. Wow! I would have never imagined how many health risks are associated with the intake of caffeine. My husband and I have been trying for a baby for a while now, and the fact that we both drink coffee may be hindering our progress! I have recently lowered my coffee intake to about 1 cup a week. Instead of my morning coffee every day I have a cup of herbal tea. It is still delicious but doesn't contain as much caffeine. Thank you for such a well-written post.

  4. Hi, Josephine. Good to know that you are now on herbal tea instead. But your husband must do the same. Check out my article on Is Coffee Good for Men to find out why.

  5. Coffee will make your breast smaller? Wow, that's amazing how people can turn facts,around to confuse others. Thanks for debunking this myth.

  6. Lilian, people like to sensationalize information for reasons of their own! Even the big media houses are doing this. Sad, but true. Anyway, thanks for commenting.

  7. I enjoyed reading your post on coffee and it effects on women. I am a heavy coffee drinker, and I don't think I can give it up. I have decided that I can live with a little incontinence, coffee is an excellent mood stabilizer for me. I actually find if very relaxing and soothing. Thank you for the article. I wish you well.
    Take Care,

  8. Heather. Thanks for dropping by and commenting. Who doesn't love coffee? :-)

  9. Hi Mazlan,
    Wow, I am really impressed with this article!
    I didn't know that caffeine between the age of 8 and 22 could lead to drug addiction. I am lucky that my children still don't like coffee! I will certainly keep an eye on this:)
    As for my part, I drink two cups of coffee a day and to be honest; I feel really bad when I exceed this amount.
    However, I will definitely take all these information into account!
    Just a question, please. I drink Nescafe, what kind of coffee would be better, the black or coffee with milk?
    Thank you for this excellent article!

  10. Daniella, thanks for the compliment. So is black coffee or white coffee better? There are many thoughts on this but research shows black (conventional drip-brewer style) is better. For your info, majority of coffee drinkers add cream and sugar in their coffee. In America, this is about 65%.But if you drink only 2 cups a day, the white coffee is unlikely to be a problem.Have a great weekend ahead Daniella.

  11. This is a really interesting subject. I'm very much into health and diet related topics and I had never even considered coffee affecting the genders differently. Bummer that women take longer to detoxify. Do you know if drinking more water after drinking coffee help? Or do you know of any other method to help flush the toxins out?

    I love coffee and know that it does put me in a better mood. I'm not depressed but I definitely notice I feel a little more up on days I drink coffee.

  12. Hi Katie, sorry for the late reply. I read somewhere that if you drink one cup of coffee, it is good to follow through with one cup of plain water. This helps with the detox stuff. So if two cups of coffee, then two cups of water! It can be tough but if it helps to remove the toxins, why not.Thanks Katie and have a great day.

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