Good news for coffee drinkers across America: a U.S. government-appointed panel of scientists has found three to five cups a day doesn't pose any long-term health risks. In fact, a caffeine habit could even reduce risks of cardiovascular disease and type-2 diabetes. Just make sure you take it easy on the cream and sugar.

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee has been charged with updating guidelines that act as suggestions for other agencies to follow, such as the FDA and Department of Agriculture. Roberto A. Ferdman from The Washington Post reports that this decision has broken the committee's silence on coffee that's gone on for over 40 years. One member of the committee, Tom Brenna, a nutritionist at Cornell University, said to Ferdman:

“I don’t want to get into implying coffee cures cancer — nobody thinks that. But there is no evidence for increased risk, if anything, the other way around.”

Still, there's a nagging question as to how this committee came to this conclusion after all these years: How did they get their data? What studies did they review?

Nina Teicholz from The New York Times reported on just this the other day. She says that the ruling on no more than 400 mg of coffee a day along with the committee's other dietary recommendations comes from mostly observational studies of large populations, making associative connections between two sets of data: diet and disease. But correlation doesn't always mean causation.

She reports on her mistrust of these studies, especially when she reads in this new set of guidelines that much of what was once forbidden has now been deemed healthy again.

So, before forwarding this article to silence friends and family who say your coffee addiction is bad for you, question the research methods. Ask if the science is sound.

Read Teicholz's full thoughts and critiques on the recent report at The New York Times. But if you're looking for an easy way to get your friends off your back about your coffee habit, send them to The Washington Post.

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