Coffee and oxidative stress: a human intervention study



Coffee is known to contain phytochemicals with antioxidant potential. The aim of this study was to investigate possible antioxidant effects of coffee in healthy human volunteers.


A placebo-controlled intervention trial was carried out on 160 healthy human subjects, randomised into three groups, receiving 3 or 5 cups of study coffee or water per day, for 8 weeks. Blood samples were taken before, during, and after the intervention. Serum was used for analysis of blood lipids and standard clinical chemistry analytes. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells were isolated, and DNA damage (strand breaks and oxidised bases) was measured with the comet assay. The lipid oxidation product isoprostane 8-iso-PGF2α was assayed in urine samples by LC–MS/MS.


There was no significant effect of coffee consumption on the markers of oxidation of DNA and lipids. Creatinine (in serum) increased by a few per cent in all groups, and the liver enzyme γ-glutamyl transaminase was significantly elevated in serum in the 5 cups/day group. Other clinical markers (including glucose and insulin), cholesterol, triacylglycerides, and inflammatory markers were unchanged. There was no effect of coffee on blood pressure.


In a carefully controlled clinical trial with healthy subjects, up to 5 cups of coffee per day had no detectable effect, either beneficial or harmful, on human health.

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We thank Dr L. Wsolova (Slovak Medical University) for carrying out statistical analyses. We are grateful to Hoffmann La Roche for supplying Ro 19-8022. This work was funded by Kraft Foods R & D Inc. and University of Oslo.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Sergey Shaposhnikov.

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Conflict of interests

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest. Thomas Hatzold and Philip Marc Stavro at the time when the study was conducted were employees of Kraft Foods R&D Inc., Zweigniederlassung Muenchen, Muenchen, Germany.

Appendix 1: Coffee content and analysis

Appendix 1: Coffee content and analysis

See Table 7, 8, 9, and 10.

Table 7 Nutritional data
Table 8 Compositional constituents
Table 9 Physical analysis of AOX study coffee
Table 10 Microbiological analysis of AOX study coffee

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Shaposhnikov, S., Hatzold, T., Yamani, N.E. et al. Coffee and oxidative stress: a human intervention study. Eur J Nutr 57, 533–544 (2018).

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  • Human intervention trial
  • Coffee
  • DNA oxidation
  • Lipid oxidation