New research shows coffee can affect our metabolism in dozens of ways—including our metabolism of steroids and the neurotransmitters typically linked to cannabis—beyond the caffeine boost we expect in the morning.
“These are entirely new pathways by which coffee might affect health.”
After drinking four to eight cups of coffee in a day, people’s neurotransmitters related to the endocannabinoid system—the same ones that cannabis affects—decreased. That’s the opposite of what occurs after someone uses cannabis.
Neurotransmitters are the chemicals that deliver messages between nerve cells and cannabinoids are the chemicals that give the cannabis plant its medical and recreational properties. Our body also naturally produces endocannabinoids, which mimic cannabinoid activity.
Further, certain metabolites related to the androsteroid system increased after drinking four to eight cups of coffee in a day, which suggests coffee might facilitate the excretion or elimination of steroids. Because the steroid pathway is a focus for certain diseases including cancers, coffee may have an effect on these diseases as well, researchers say.
“These are entirely new pathways by which coffee might affect health,” says lead author Marilyn Cornelis, assistant professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “Now we want to delve deeper and study how these changes affect the body.”
Little is known about how coffee directly impacts health. In the new study, which appears in the Journal of Internal Medicine, scientists applied advanced technology that allowed them to measure hundreds of metabolites in human blood samples from a coffee trial for the first time.
For the study, 47 people in Finland didn’t drink coffee for one month, then consumed four cups a day for the second month, and then eight cups a day for the third month. Researchers