Before I tackle this subject, I’ll be honest: I love coffee. I wrote here on the pluses and minuses of caffeine and the pluses of coffee itself, caffeine notwithstanding. I expanded here on the mounting evidence that coffee consumption in moderation decreases the risk of many chronic diseases.
But about that “in moderation” thing… especially if you’re a woman with estrogen dominance issues or low libido, mounting evidence suggests that coffee consumption in excess of two cups per day may make it worse.
Liver Detox Pathways and Estrogen
All foreign chemicals have to go through either your liver or your kidneys to get broken down into simple enough pieces to get eliminated. Your liver’s big though, so it’s got lots of different “queues” (called cytochrome systems) for breaking stuff down. Each chemical has to get into its own particular queue before it can get out of the body. And, as we all know, the longer the line, the longer it takes to check out.
It just so happens that caffeine and estrogen share the same cytochrome system (CYP1A2 if you care).
The logical conclusion here is that excessive coffee consumption worsens estrogen dominance, because while your liver is dealing with caffeine, estrogen can’t get eliminated fast enough at that proper time of the month… making PMS, cramping, acne, fibrocystic breasts and any number of menstrual-related symptoms worse.
As a matter of fact, this study found that more than 100 mg of caffeine daily (a normal cup of coffee contains 95-200 mg) will increase circulating estrogen levels to some degree, but up to 500 mg daily (around 4-5 cups) will increase circulating estrogen levels by 70%!
Caffeine and Testosterone
As both men and women grow older, production of testosterone correspondingly declines. For men, obviously adequate testosterone levels are crucial. But for women, testosterone is also important for maintaining libido, building muscle, and maintaining metabolism. And according to this study, the more caffeine you consume, the lower your bioavailable testosterone levels will be. This is apparently because caffeine increases Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG), which will bind testosterone and prevent it from doing you any good.
The Take-Home Message:
One or a max of two cups of (caffeinated) coffee daily will help you to reap the antioxidant and blood sugar support benefits of coffee… but don’t go over two, or you’ll risk the potential damage of abusing your adrenal glands as well as screwing up your hormones.
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