For some, it's the elixir of life -- just the smell of it is enough to drag them out of bed, and woe to those who try to function during the day without its earthy potency flowing through their blood.
But coffee may literally save lives, according to the World Health Organization. After years of studies seesawing between coffee's alleged health benefits and risks, what The New York Times calls "an influential panel of experts" says that regularly drinking coffee can help protect against certain types of cancer.
The WHO's experts also said they're convinced coffee does not cause cancer, a reversal from its 1991 warning that coffee could be carcinogenic. After decades of studies disproving a theoretical link between coffee and cancer, epidemiologist Geoffrey Kabat said the evidence overwhelmingly concludes coffee is not carcinogenic.
“What the evidence shows over all is that coffee drinking is associated with either reduced risk of several cancers or certainly no clear increase in other cancers,” Kabat told The New York Times. “There’s a strong signal that this is probably not something that we need to be worrying about.”
Coffee's many health benefits include protecting against Parkinson's disease, Type 2 diabetes and liver disease, according to the Mayo Clinic. Some studies also say the beverage, when used in moderation, can help prevent cardiovascular issues.
"Coffee has a long history of being blamed for many ills -- from stunting your growth to claims that it causes heart disease and cancer," the Mayo Clinic's section on coffee reads. "But recent research indicates that coffee may not be so bad after all. So which is it -- good or bad? The best answer may be that for most people the health benefits outweigh the risks."
That's good news for the estimated 130 million coffee drinkers in the U.S. Worldwide, people drink more than 1.6 billion cups of coffee a day, The New York Times reported.
The WHO's findings mirror a February 2015 report by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, which found that drinking between three and five cups per day could have important health benefits, The Washington Post reported.
"I don’t want to get into implying coffee cures cancer -- nobody thinks that," said Tom Brenna, a nutritionist at Cornell University. "But there is no evidence for increased risk, if anything, the other way around."