Overview

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The gastrointestinal (GI) tract runs from the mouth through to the large intestine and anus, encompassing associated organs that are involved with the process of digestion such as the gallbladder and pancreas1.

Research into gastrointestinal conditions such as dyspepsia2-6, gastro oesophageal reflux disease7-16, peptic ulcers17,18, and gastritis18 suggests that coffee is not associated with the development of these disorders. Research also suggests that coffee consumption does not worsen symptoms in those who suffer these conditions when confounding factors, such as BMI and smoking status, are controlled for2,8,10, 13.

In the small intestine, studies suggest that coffee consumption does not increase the risk of duodenal ulcers19,20 and has no effect on fluid balance in this location21,22. Research also suggests that there is no association between coffee consumption and disorders of the large intestine, such as diarrhoea21-23, or irritable bowel syndrome3,24,25. Research on organs associated with the gastro intestinal tract suggests that coffee consumption is associated with a reduced risk of gallbladder disease26,-29, and with lower incidence and rates of progression of liver disease30.

In relation to cancers throughout the GI tract, in its 2016 report, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) concluded that there is inadequate research to suggest any link between coffee consumption and cancer of the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, stomach, oesophagus, or colorectum31. The review also suggests that coffee drinking is associated with a reduced occurrence of liver cancer31. Data reviewed by IARC also suggests that there is no association between coffee consumption and increased risk of pancreatic cancer31. However, IARC classified beverages consumed at very high temperatures, defined as drinks over 65°C, as “probably carcinogenic to the human oesophagus”31.

The content in this Overview was last edited in May 2018. Papers in the Latest Research section and further resources are added regularly.

This information is intended for Healthcare professional audiences.
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