Coffee is widely consumed for its great taste and energizing effect.
However, it’s widely believed that coffee stunts growth. It’s why most parents will allow their children to consume all manner of caffeinated drinks but won’t let them drink coffee.
This article unravels the truth about whether or not coffee will make you short and discusses the risks and benefits of drinking coffee.
Separating Truth From Myth
While much research has been done on coffee’s connection to cancer, heart disease, infertility, and other ailments, there’s no scientific evidence to prove that coffee makes you short.
Well, that’s because it doesn’t.
Although studies conducted decades ago suggested caffeine intake hampered calcium absorption, which is essential for bone health, such effects are minimal.
The truth is, most coffee drinkers like it black and consume less milk or other drinks containing calcium, as analyses of these studies revealed. That means it was probably the lack of sufficient calcium, not the coffee, that was the issue.
And besides, people, including adolescents, consume plenty of caffeinated drinks such as energy drinks and sodas.
So, where did this myth originate?
The beverage was advertised as the perfect caffeine-free substitute for drinking coffee. It vilified coffee, claiming it caused all sorts of problems, including for children, lack of proper development and growth, and this theory took root and stuck.
However, studies conducted for six years on 81 adolescents proved that coffee has no impact on bone growth or density. At the end of the study, those with the highest daily intake differed in no way from those who consumed very little or no coffee.
The bottom line is, coffee does not stunt growth.
Causes of Stunted Growth
The following are some causes of reduced height:
- A family history of short stature: It’s common for a child to experience delayed growth if the parents or extended family are short.
- Constitutional delay in growth: This condition causes a child’s bones to mature slower (delayed bone age), leading to a shorter stature in their early teenage years. However, they do catch up in adulthood.
- Growth hormone deficiency: When the growth hormone (GH) is wholly or partially deficient, it interferes with a child’s growth.
- Hypothyroidism: Hyperthyroidism refers to an underactive thyroid gland. The thyroid gland produces hormones that promote normal growth, so if it’s not working as it should, it could cause delayed development in babies or children.
- Turner syndrome: This is a genetic condition in females where part of or an entire X chromosome is missing. This condition can cause medical and developmental problems, including short height.
In adults, loss of height can occur when several discs along the spinal bones degenerate and compress with age. Similarly, when the spine bends forward, a condition known as kyphosis, or curves (scoliosis), it will cause a reduction in height over time.
Risks of Drinking Coffee
We’ve established drinking coffee won’t make you short. However, coffee has been linked to some health problems, which include:
A meta-analysis on the connection between coffee consumption and bone fractures showed that female coffee drinkers who consume a lot of the beverage are more susceptible to bone fractures.
Interestingly, men who drink a lot of coffee, on the other hand, are at lower risk.
Coffee consumption is unsafe for an expectant mother. There’s evidence that proves high coffee consumption can result in low birth weight, preterm birth, or even losing the pregnancy.
According to a dose-response analysis on pregnancy and caffeine consumption, drinking 150mg of coffee per day increases the risk of pregnancy loss by 19%.
Drinking a lot of coffee can cause anxiousness or trigger anxiety disorders in people with social anxiety or panic disorder.
It can also cause mania and psychosis in susceptible people, although this is uncommon.
Affects Mental Health
Studies have shown that when adolescents consume a lot of coffee, it can cause some brain changes.
These changes are permanent, and later in adulthood, such adolescents are usually more at risk of anxiety-related conditions.
Drinking coffee can cause some elevation in blood pressure and abnormal or faster heart rhythms, although temporarily.
Some studies link drinking a lot of coffee to cardiovascular disease. However, such research did not account for the smoking that generally accompanies such high coffee consumption, which on its own is a significant cardiovascular risk factor.
Minor Side Effects
There are also some bothersome or irritating, although minor, side effects of drinking coffee. For example, it can cause insomnia, heartburn, and in some people, palpitations.
Coffee also causes a jittery feeling or even anxiety, as mentioned earlier. Also, because it’s a diuretic, it causes frequent urination.
Benefits of Drinking Coffee
Drinking coffee has some adverse effects on our health, but it’s not all doom and gloom. Coffee contains some valuable nutrients that help the human body, and it lowers the risk of certain diseases.
Below are some health benefits associated with drinking coffee:
Coffee is one dietary component that’s been heavily studied, and for coffee lovers, the good news is the findings are mostly positive. It’s probably the reason moderate coffee consumption (whether caffeinated or decaf) has been linked with a longer lifespan.
Coffee reduces the risk of death by 8 to 10%, with this rate increasing among higher consumers. It can also reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, including stroke, heart attack, and heart failure.
For example, drinking two eight-ounce servings per day can prevent heart failure. And studies have also shown that coffee consumption helps maintain healthy blood pressure levels.
Lowers Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Studies conducted on 48,000 people revealed that increasing coffee consumption by a cup per day over four years lowered the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 11%.
Further analysis concluded that drinking four to six cups of coffee, whether caffeinated or decaffeinated, every day can lower the risk of developing metabolic syndrome, including type 2 diabetes.
Lowers Risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
Various studies have shown that caffeine can help minimize the risk of getting Parkinson’s disease, although these are not conclusive.
According to one of the studies, men who drink a lot of coffee (more than four cups) daily may be at a lower risk of getting Parkinson’s disease, and in people with the disease, it helps control movement.
A meta-analysis conducted in 2017 found that coffee consumption lowers the risk of Parkinson’s disease, even for smokers. It also suggested that drinking coffee makes people less likely to experience depression and Alzheimer’s disease.
Lowers Risk of Some Cancers
Coffee lowers the risk of colon, uterine, and liver cancer. Research has shown that drinking about three cups per day might reduce liver cancer susceptibility by 40 to 50%.
And in 2019, a review of various literature on expert reports, observational studies, and meta-analyses on the correlation between coffee intake and liver cancer risk concurred that coffee consumption lowered the risk of getting liver cancer.
It’s not clear why drinking coffee is beneficial, especially considering that the studies don’t distinguish whether the coffee is caffeinated.
Coffee is rich in antioxidants. And it may surprise you to learn that in most meals today, especially a standard Western one, coffee may be one of the healthiest elements of such a diet.
Interestingly, research shows that many people obtain more antioxidants from coffee than from vegetables and fruits.
In fact, coffee is one of the healthiest beverages on the planet.
Coffee beans are loaded with nutrients, most of which are still present in brewed coffee. These nutrients include riboflavin (vitamin B2), magnesium, niacin (vitamin B3), manganese, potassium, and pantothenic acid (vitamin B5).
Although the nutrients in a cup of coffee are in minimal amounts and may seem like they don’t count, most people drink two or more cups, so these amounts add up to a considerable quantity.
Improves Physical Performance
Consuming 3 to 13mg of caffeine per kilogram of body weight can enhance physical performance.
That’s because caffeine releases body fat by signaling fat cells to break it down, which in turn stimulates the nervous system, lowering perceived exertion and feelings of fatigue and even causing a feeling of less pain.
What is more, it boosts adrenaline levels in the blood. It’s no wonder many use coffee to prolong and enhance athletic performance.
Now you know that drinking coffee won’t make you short, no matter how much of it you consume. So go ahead and enjoy your favorite beverage. Yes, it does have some risk factors associated with it but only when consumed in excess.
It also has several benefits, and although some are caffeine-related and caffeine can be found in other drinks, coffee is without all the unhealthy sugar and additives. Good health to you!
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