Questions Patients Ask

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Stomach

Does coffee drinking cause stomach problems?

There is no evidence to suggest that drinking coffee causes stomach problems such as dyspepsia, acid reflux, peptic ulcers and gastritis.

Does coffee consumption increase the production of stomach acid?

Consuming food and drink triggers the production of stomach acid and coffee is no different. There is no evidence to suggest that the acid production following coffee consumption causes problems.1

Can someone who suffers acid reflux (gastro intestinal reflux disease or GERD) drink coffee?

There is no clear evidence to suggest that consuming coffee worsens the symptoms of acid reflux, or that stopping drinking coffee reduces the symptoms.  Some of those who suffer from acid reflux choose to avoid certain foods and drinks if they feel they cause discomfort, and this may include coffee for some individuals.2

Does coffee consumption increase the risk of developing stomach ulcers?

No, coffee consumption is not associated with an increased risk of developing stomach ulcers.  Research into the cause of stomach ulcers has confirmed a role for the bacterium Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) in their development.  Other factors such as smoking and the use of tranquilisers are also associated with stomach ulcers.3

Can those who suffer gastritis (inflamed stomach lining) drink coffee?

Research has not shown any evidence of a relationship between the development of gastritis and coffee consumption, though some patients do choose to avoid certain foods and drinks if they experience discomfort after consumption.

Is there a difference between caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee on stomach problems?

There is limited research in this area.  One study has suggested that consuming decaffeinated coffee at breakfast time reduces acid reflux4, but this has not been confirmed in other studies and conclusions cannot be drawn.

Are there differences between different types of coffee on stomach problems?

There is limited research investigating the effects of different types of coffee, however there is no evidence to suggest that drinking coffee in general causes stomach problems such as dyspepsia, acid reflux, peptic ulcers and gastritis.

 

Small intestine

Does drinking coffee increase the risk of developing duodenal ulcers?

No, scientific studies available to date suggest that there is no association between the development of duodenal ulcers and drinking coffee, or any evidence that drinking coffee affects the pattern of complaints in those with duodenal ulcers.

Can those who suffer other intestinal disorders (e.g. diverticulitis, Crohn’s Disease) drink coffee?

Coffee can be enjoyed by those who suffer from diverticulitis, Crohn’s Disease or ulcerative colitis as there is no indication that it influences these disorders. However, sufferers may choose to self manage their symptoms and select items to avoid that they consider to have an adverse impact on their condition.  This may include avoiding certain foods or beverages, including coffee.

 

Large intestine

Does coffee help to encourage food to move through the digestive system?

Consuming food and drink stimulates movement in the digestive system, as part of the routine digestive process.  One study has compared the effect of regular and decaffeinated coffee on intestinal motility5 with hot water or a full meal.  The effect of caffeinated coffee was as substantial as a full meal, but stronger than water and decaffeinated coffee.

Does coffee have a laxative effect, or cause diarrhoea?

There is no evidence to suggest that drinking coffee increases the amount of fluid in the digestive system causing a laxative effect or diarrhoea.

Is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) affected by drinking coffee?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome can cause pain and abnormal bowel movements.  Foods rich in carbohydrates and fat are often associated with IBS, and evidence suggests that there is no association with coffee consumption.6 As Irritable Bowel Syndrome is often difficult to specify sufferers may avoid foods and drinks that they consider impact their condition adversely.

Is the risk of bowel cancer affected by drinking coffee?

Overall, the scientific evidence suggests there is no link between moderate coffee consumption and an increased risk of developing bowel cancer.

 

Other intestinal organs

Are gallstones caused by drinking coffee?

No, research suggests that drinking coffee may help to reduce the risk of developing gallbladder disease (or symptomatic gallstones) by up to 45% in men and up to 28% in women.7,8

Is a patient with gallstones able to drink coffee?

Yes, coffee can be enjoyed by people with gallstones. It may even be beneficial in the early stages of gallbladder disease, where it is thought to slow down the progression of non-symptomatic to symptomatic gallstones. However, if large gallstones are already present, the stimulation of the gallbladder contraction by coffee or caffeine may cause pain.

Is there an association between coffee drinking and pancreatic cancer?

No, moderate coffee consumption is not linked with a higher risk of pancreatic cancer.  The World Cancer Research Fund9 found no increase in risk of developing pancreatic cancer with coffee consumption.  In fact, some studies suggest that regular coffee drinking is linked to a lower risk of pancreatic cancer.

Does coffee drinking impact risk of developing liver cancer?

Research suggests that moderate coffee consumption may help to reduce the risk of liver cancer, and the risk falls as coffee consumption rises.10,11

Can those who suffer liver disease drink coffee?

Yes, there is no evidence to suggest that moderate coffee drinking poses any problems for individuals with liver disease. In fact, some studies suggest coffee may slow down the progression of liver disease.

References

  1. Boekema P.J. et al. (1999a) Chapter 4: Prevalence of functional bowel symptoms in a general Dutch population and associations with use of alcohol, coffee and smoking.Coffee and upper gastrointestinal motor and sensory functions, Zeist (the Netherlands).
  2. Boekema P.J. et al. (1999b) Effect of coffee on gastroesophageal reflux in patients with reflux disease and healthy controls. Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol, 11:1271-1276.
  3. Moayyedi P. et al. (2000) The Proportion of Upper Gastrointestinal Symptoms in the community Associated With Helicobacter pylori, Lifestyle Factors, and Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs. Am J Gastroenterol, 95(6):1448-1455.
  4. Pehl C. et al. (1997) The effect of decaffeination of coffee on gastroesophageal reflux in patients with reflux disease. Alim Pharm Ther, 11:483-486.
  5. Rao S.S.C. et al. (1998) Is coffee a colonic stimulant.Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol, 10:113-118.
  6. Simren M. et al. (2001) Food-Related Gastrointestinal Symptoms in the Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Digestion, 63:108-115.
  7. Leitzmann M.F. et al. (1999) A prospective study of coffee consumption and risk of symptomatic gallstone disease in men.JAMA, 281:2106-2112.
  8. Leitzmann M.F. et al. (2002) Coffee intake is associated with lower risk of symptomatic gallstone disease in women.Gastroenterol, 123:1823-1830.
  9. WCRF: Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective. (2007) Available from: http://www.dietandcancerreport.org/
  10. Larsson S.C. et al. (2007) Coffee consumption and liver cancer: a meta-analysis. Gastroenterology, 132:1740-1745.
  11. Bravi F. et al. (2007) Coffee drinking and hepatocellular carcinoma risk: a meta-analysis. Hepatology, 46:430-435.

 

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