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Does Instant Coffee Affect Health or Cause Cancer?

By Roger Thorne J.D.

The first reported use of coffee comes from the Kaffa region of Ethiopia in 850 AD, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. Since then, coffee consumption has spread across the world, with many coffee users wondering about the drink's health effects. While there is no evidence to show coffee, instant or otherwise, causes cancer, it does have some health effects drinkers should know about.

Coffee vs. Instant Coffee

Instant coffee was first invented in 1937, according to Nestle. Instant coffee is a powdered form of coffee that is created by spray drying or freeze drying powdered coffee beans. The powdered coffee then dissolves in water and retains much of coffee's flavor. Instant coffee has a very long shelf life when compared to roasted or ground coffee, and comes in caffeinated and noncaffeinated versions.

Coffee and Cancer

While some studies suggest that there is a relationship between coffee—whether it's instant or regular—and some kinds of cancer, it is not a causal one. The United States Department of Agriculture reports that there is little evidence to show that any kind of coffee causes or increases the risk of developing cancer. A review of the epidemiological studies of the coffee-and-cancer relationship, published in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention in 2000, suggests that there is an inverse relationship between coffee and colorectal cancer, meaning coffee may actually help prevent cancer.

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Other Health Effects

Instant coffee also has other health benefits and effects. The United States Department of Agriculture reports that regular coffee drinkers have a lower risk of type-2 diabetes than non-coffee drinkers. Instant coffee is also a source of some nutrients, such as chromium, magnesium and other nutrients. An 8 oz. cup of instant coffee, for example, has about 72 mg of potassium and 57 micrograms of boron.

Caffeine

Instant coffee has health effects caused by the drink's caffeine content. According to HealthFinder, a service of the Department of Health and Human Services, instant coffee contains an average of 54 mg of caffeine per cup. Caffeine is a drug that affects the central nervous system, acting as a mild stimulant. Many people experience a sense of increased awareness and alertness when taking caffeine. Regular users can experience withdrawal symptoms, such as a headache, when deprived of caffeine.

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