Coffee was once primarily associated with health risks, but recent studies show that regular consumption of the hot beverage also has some health benefits. However, coffee actually seems to have more disadvantages when it comes to the risk of osteoarthritis.
In a recent study, a Chinese research team from Tongji University examined whether there is a causal connection between coffee consumption and the occurrence of osteoarthritis and what role body mass index (BMI) and bone mineral density play in this. The results are published in the specialist magazine “Frontiers in Genetics”.
Is coffee healthy or unhealthy?
While regular coffee consumption was considered to be harmful to health just a few decades ago, numerous recent studies have demonstrated various health benefits and led to a rethink.
For example, coffee can also contribute to the remission of diabetes and has been shown to exhibit anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-cancer, chemoprotective and hepatoprotective properties, among others.
Most recently, a review paper at the beginning of the year even came to the conclusion that coffee enables a significantly longer life with fewer diseases, while also highlighting its neuroprotective effect.
Adverse consequences for the joints?
However, the potential disadvantages of coffee consumption should not be completely ignored. This also applies to possible impairments of the joints, which the research team examined in the new study.
Based on available genome-wide association studies on the connection between coffee consumption and the risk of osteoarthritis, as well as using a so-called Mendelian randomization analysis, the researchers examined possible causal relationships.
They looked at the general risk of osteoarthritis, but also, for example, the specific risk of knee osteoarthritis or hip osteoarthritis. Furthermore, the possible mediating effects of BMI and bone mineral density were assessed.
The researchers also looked at different types of coffee (decaffeinated coffee, instant coffee, ground coffee – including espresso, filter coffee, etc. – and other types of coffee) to determine the effects of coffee type on the risk of osteoarthritis.
Increased risk of osteoarthritis
The team found that coffee consumption appeared to increase the risk of osteoarthritis in various areas, with the most significant effect being seen in knee osteoarthritis. Here the researchers determined that the risk doubled.
However, the analysis of the different types of coffee showed that only decaffeinated coffee was causally linked to both an increased risk of knee osteoarthritis and the general risk of osteoarthritis, according to the experts.
BMI has a strong influence
The Mendelian randomization analysis also made it clear that BMI mediates more than half of the association between coffee consumption and the risk of osteoarthritis. The bone mineral density here, however, only accounts for less than five percent.
Overall, the study suggests that coffee consumption increases the risk of osteoarthritis, although BMI plays a significant mediating role. Decaffeinated coffee also seems to have the greatest influence on the risk of osteoarthritis compared to other types of coffee.
“Therefore, monitoring BMI and selecting suitable types of coffee should be included in the health management of people who frequently consume coffee,” the researchers conclude. (fp)