Good news for the millions of people for whom the day doesn't really begin until they put a steaming cuppa Joe to their lips: According to the latest study of scientific studies, coffee -- pure, unadulterated java without any of the frills -- may actually be good for you.
The traditional day-starter for much of the world has endured something of a mixed reputation in recent years as health-conscious folks avoided the caffeine it contains, while young people embraced the stimulant in everything from double tall nonfat extra-dry cappuccinos to energy drinks.
But the Boston Globe reports that cumulative evidence from dozens of studies shows that decaf coffee and, in some cases, the high-test stuff, has potential health benefits.
One of the most significant findings is that people who drink coffee are less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes. At least three ingredients in regular or decaffeinated coffee may be involved in the reduced risk, which could be as much as 50 percent.
Other studies suggest a daily cup or two reduces the chance of developing liver cancer or cirrhosis of the liver and might help reduce the risk of stroke.
As for caffeine, the stimulant responsible for the anxiety, jitters and sleeplessness often associated with coffee drinking, it appears to reduce the risk of Parkinson's disease among men by half. Even one cup per day is believed to offer some protection against the degenerative neurological disease. That same cup also helps athletes perform at a higher level, apparently by letting muscles contract more strongly.
Coffee got such a bad rep, researchers told the Globe, because it kept bad company. Specifically, coffee drinkers often smoked as well, but previous studies failed to identify which ill effects were the result of which habit.
Experts aren't recommending that people start drinking gallons of coffee, but it is nice to know that a jolt or two of the daily grind in the a.m. may actually be starting the day off right.