The effects of coffee on health constitute a tremendous controversy. One

expert advocates coffee consumption and another completely opposes it.

Confusion is understandable. Recent interviews of centenarians revealed

that each one consumed coffee starting at a young age. Scientific data, on

the other hand, has linked the overindulgence of coffee to endocrine disturbances,

primarily those associated with impaired androgen activity in

men. In these studies, it was shown that avid coffee consumption could

actually affect sperm count and testosterone secretion. More recent studies

demonstrate, however, that sperm count isn’t affected but sperm quality

is. Motility of sperm might be enhanced by caffeine, but the sperm’s ability

to fertilize is reduced (49, 50).

Lower testosterone levels in men and higher estrogen potential in

women are also somehow coffee-related (51). Increased sex-hormone binding

globulin (SHBG) levels and associated higher risks of breast cancer,

endometriosis, and fibrocystic breast disease in female coffee drinkers

have been identified in these studies. Higher SHBG levels, as we’ve seen,

are connected to elevated estrogen activity in the body. Studies indicate

increased cortisol production with coffee consumption, which might nominally

reduce testosterone production (52). However, very little research points

to significantly compromised testosterone levels due to coffee consumption.

There might be an explanation for the hormone and sperm anomalies that

has little to do with caffeine.

The University of Guelph in Ontario recently released new findings on

coffee. This novel research identifies coffee as a contributor to the high

rate of insulin resistance plaguing society. The study revealed that two

cups of coffee consumed after a high-glycemic-index meal can induce

insulin resistance to prolong the clearance of blood sugar (53). If these

findings prove conclusive, the ill effects of coffee might include significant

heightening of oxidative stress, promotion of insulin resistance, interference

of hormone synthesis, and an increased risk of most of our epidemic diseases.

But what explains the apparent resistance of those coffee-indulgent centenarians

to these new coffee-related disorders? Once again, as we’ll see,

the explanation can be found in how we grow our food and how we treat

our environment today in comparison to what these centenarians experienced

when they were younger.

The cultivation of coffee and cocoa beans takes place primarily in

countries where spraying with toxic pesticides is poorly, if at all, regulated.

The biological consequences of organochloride and organophosphate

pesticides have been clear for decades, yet the agricultural bottom line

still prevails over human health. Organophosphates are powerful neurotoxins.

In fact, their original design was intended for chemical warfare

as nerve gas.

In small doses organophosphates are effective killers of crop-destructive

pests. Agricultural experts claim that this minuscule exposure doesn’t

damage the human biological system. But organophosphates aren’t just in

our food. They’re sprayed in backyard flower and vegetable gardens, and

in lumberyards to protect lumber from infestation.

Organophosphates are employed profusely in many countries that

Canada and the United States import food from—coffee and cocoa bean

producers included. Small but frequent neurotoxin exposure can accumulate

to impose significant consequences. If you’re a big coffee drinker, you’re

simply further concentrating your exposure to environmental- and foodborne

toxicity. Ironically the Type II diabetic state impairs the natural

enzyme system that protects us from incoming organophosphates (54).

We can tolerate minute quantities of this neurotoxic compound, but not

when our specialized enzyme systems are damaged. Adding this toxicity

to a body that has difficulty detoxifying increases the danger of disease;

however, if the metabolism were functional, this small exposure could be

neutralized with ease.

Diabetes insipidus (a kidney/water-regulatory disorder that induces

uncontrollable thirst) and hyperglycemia (high blood sugar possibly due

to insulin resistance) can be attributed to organophosphates, as well. This

toxicity is also associated with glucose in the urine. These symptoms point

to kidney and pancreatic damage (55, 56). Organophosphate-induced

hyperglycemia/insulin inefficiency might be the real cause for the findings

at the University of Guelph. However, we don’t know if the Guelph study

used organically grown coffee that was confirmed to be organophosphateor


Organophosphates and organochlorides interrupt the endocrine system,

impairing androgenic activity and facilitating estrogenic activity in the

body. Organophosphate toxicity escalates cortisol levels, impairs thyroid

output, and lowers follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) secretions from the

pituitary gland. The last-mentioned endocrine influence hampers sperm

production and ovulation—in other words, fertility (57). Studies have

revealed that some women today reach childbearing maturity earlier than

ever before. That doesn’t imply that the sole cause of this premature maturation

is estrogenic toxicity from the environment. Today’s better nutrition

and advanced health care contribute to a more rapid development toward

biological maturity to prepare women for childbearing sooner. However,

other indicators demonstrate that environmental toxicity with these estrogenic

compounds is a major factor in the development of associated diseases

such as a high rate of breast and endometrial cancer and general endocrine

imbalances in both men and women.

The cognitive implications of organophosphate and organochloride

exposure are obvious. These chemicals stimulate neurons to death. The

doses we’re subject to today won’t kill us immediately, but long-term exposure

is significant. Cognitive disorders such as ADHD are likely consequences of

many factors, including these pest poisons, as are other common neurological

diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Elimination of just

one of these contributing factors can give the body the break it needs to

deal with the damage or at least cope longer.

Organophosphates damage neuron function in many ways to induce

immediate cell death, and with low-level intoxication they initiate interference

that can have long-lasting secondary consequences such as cognitive

deficits (58, 59, 60, 61). In addition to displaying anti-cholinesterase activity

(intense neuron firing), there is evidence that other neurological proteins

are affected by these chemicals.

Studies of Mexican communities such as Tescopaco confirm that these

facts are much more than probable. A study done by Elizabeth Gillette et

al in 1994 confirmed the dangers of unregulated pesticide use. The rich

soils of the Mexican Yaqui Valley seeded a successful farming community

that proliferates today. Pesticide application here has become profuse and

unregulated. In 1998 the results of the Gillette study were published in a

peer-reviewed journal.

The valley’s population experienced twice the birth defects and infant

deaths of communities in the immediate outskirts. The valley girls’ breast

development was well under way at age seven—equivalent to young girls

of age 12 in the outskirts. Breast development is estrogen-dependent (62).

The same study revealed that the young men of the valley were physically

immature for their age, with problems that included the late development

of gonads.

The Gillette findings reveal that exposure to these toxins with the

intensity that the Mexican locals experienced can have horrific consequences.

North Americans might not be exposed to the degree that these

Mexican communities are, but the small, frequent, multiple increments

we receive from a variety of sources do reach considerable levels. For an

infant or child this can lead to severe immediate consequences and

repercussions that might appear later in life when compounded by other


The solution to the coffee problem, if you must indulge in the beverage,

is to choose organic, freshly ground beans. Drink one cup before

exercise to facilitate the burning of fat as an energy source during

activity, sparing muscle glycogen and saving muscle from catabolism.

A cup of coffee with a meal can improve dietary-induced thermogenesis

(DIT), assisting the oxidation or “burning” of excess dietary fat (63).

Caffeine also reduces the threshold for endorphin secretion, enhancing

pain tolerance and performance potential (64). Moreover, the stimulant

appears to increase lipolysis or fat breakdown independent of a meal

(65). These coffee facts shed light on the value of eating organic as

much as possible.

Other factors contribute to the effects of caffeine in the body today

that might not have been issues in the past. Contraceptive pills can boost

the half-life of caffeine, and estrogen-replacement therapy in postmenopausal

women enhances caffeine’s stimulatory influence to the

point where in some individuals its consumption becomes intolerable

(66). Cimetidine, a common drug employed to combat excess stomach acid

secretions, also interferes with the clearance of caffeine from blood

(67). If you take these drugs, you might have noticed a newly developed

sensitivity to coffee or caffeine-rich teas. Interestingly the amplified

sensitivity and the likely increment of free fatty-acid mobilization

that this factor might induce could possibly contribute to the risk of

insulin resistance.