A Study in Wellness
JIM PAVLIK, M.A., Program & Policy Analyst
Coffee has been one of my favorite things since I was about 15 years old. For a brief, fleeting moment, I went through a Monty Python-inspired Anglophile phase, complete with scorched tea and cream. But once past that, I have been deeply into coffee ever since. And now that there’s a tiny Pavlik in the house, its importance to me has only been elevated.
Coffee, for most of my life, has had a pretty rough reputation. And that reputation was formed in American science’s seamy underbelly of improperly applied statistics.1 Basically, researchers either did not know to or did not care to separate out the harmful effects of smoking on health. That is, until recently, coffee drinking and smoking were companion behaviors. So, until the prevalence rate of smoking began its rapid fall in the late 90s, it was hard for researchers to find available pools of people who both drank coffee and did not or had not smoked.
This was doubly troubling because smoking seems to undo a lot of coffee’s protective health effects and in at least one area (lung cancer) the combination of the two seems to be worse than smoking alone (Drinking coffee seems to protect against lung cancer in those that do not smoke.