Millions of Americans begin and fuel their days with a cup of hot coffee. The hot drink has been consumed for nearly 600 years, dating back to 15th century Yemen.

The drink’s caffeine has served as a kick starter for workers getting many things moving in the morning.

With its wide spread use, coffee has been the target of many controversies over the years when it comes to the drink’s effect on the health of its users.

Coffee’s bad for you, coffee’s good for you – no, wait coffee’s really bad for you — check that, it turns out it’s good for you. The longer I live, the more confused I get about the benefits or the risks.

I lived a great deal of my life avoiding coffee. I became entranced by the espresso laced chocolate milk that is a mocha until I realized that I gained three pounds smelling the drink. I have finally settled into a one cup of coffee in the morning routine. I have nearly become able to drink the stuff black.

Okay, I will never be able to down the stuff straight like my parents before me. Some stevia and mocha creamer and I’m good to go. Sorry, mom and dad.

In the latest volley in the health benefits/health risks associated with coffee, the non-profit Council for Education and Research on Toxics has been pursuing a lawsuit in California since 2010 to post warnings about acrylamide, a chemical compound that forms when coffee beans are roasted at high temperatures.

The group wants coffee shops to post a warning about the potential link between acrylamide and cancer.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) lists coffee as one of the major food sources of acrylamide, along with potato chips, crackers, bread, cookies, breakfast cereals, canned black olives and prune juice.

Acrylamide is also a component of tobacco smoke. People who smoke have three to five times the acrylamide exposure markers in their blood than non-smokers, according to the NCI.

To decrease the acrylamide content of foods, decrease the cooking time, the NCI recommends.

The presence of acrylamide is not currently regulated in food, but it is regulated in drinking water and some materials that come into contact with food. The NCI reports that, in terms of cancer, a “large number” of studies in humans have found “no consistent evidence that dietary acrylamide exposure is associated with the risk of any type of cancer.”

Coffee consumption has been shown to be good for us in some ways. It can reduce the risk of medical conditions ranging from type 2 diabetes to Parkinson’s disease and certain cancers including liver, uterine and skin cancer.

So I guess this news isn’t really news at all. There are people who think that coffee is bad for you and surprise — people who think it is good for you. It depends on who you listen to and when you are listening.

Like everything else in your life, it is best to enjoy everything in moderation. Finding the key to moderation is elusive for many of us, but well worth pursuing.

So enjoy that cup of coffee in the morning and even a piece of slightly burnt toast – or don’t. It’s still a free country.

As always, I welcome your comments. You can reach me by email at tstangl@theameryfreepress.com, telephone 715-268-8101 or write me at P.O. Box 424, Amery, WI, 54001.

Thanks for reading; I’ll keep in touch. Feel free to do the same.