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Does Coffee Cause Ulcers?

Does Coffee Cause Ulcers?

Q: My husband drinks a LOT of coffee and I worry about him getting an ulcer. Is there a way to mitigate all that coffee, and what are the warning signs?

A: No research has shown that coffee drinking leads to the formation of gastric ulcers. Even if a person is diagnosed with an ulcer, there is no reason to stop drinking coffee unless there are specific symptoms associated with its consumption.

While some people may experience heartburn after drinking a cup of coffee, there is no conclusive evidence that coffee makes the stomach produce more acid. However, caffeine may decrease the strength of the muscle that surrounds the esophagus as it enters the stomach. This may allow more acid to flow up into the esophagus causing heartburn. Keep in mind that having heartburn does not mean that you have a stomach ulcer.

Some of the symptoms to watch for if you are concerned about stomach ulcers: A sour taste in the mouth every morning, pain if you press in the area right below the sternum (the bone in the center of your chest); coughing or throwing up blood, or black sticky bowel movements indicating the presence of blood in the stool.

Learn more:
Reduce your dependence on caffeine
Can coffee be good for you?

Dr. Brent Ridge is the health expert for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. You can call and ask him a question live every Tuesday at 2 p.m. Eastern on Sirius Satellite Radio, Channel 112 (1.866.675.6675). You can also follow along as he learns to grow his own food and raise goats on his farm in upstate New York by visiting

Got a health question for Dr. Brent? E-mail him at

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Dr. Brent

As an undergraduate, Dr. Brent Ridge majored in public health and environmental science, studying the way the state of the natural environment impacts our health choices. As a physician, he specializes in the field of aging. Send your health questions to Dr. Brent at


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1:57PM PST on Nov 17, 2012


5:49AM PST on Nov 17, 2012

I love coffee but have cut back recently.

4:43AM PST on Nov 17, 2012

Gotta have my coffee thru out the day!

4:28PM PDT on Oct 9, 2012

Thank you for sharing.

5:33PM PDT on Sep 13, 2012

doesn't tea have a lot oif caffeine too???

10:58AM PST on Feb 17, 2010

I'm not sure if the ulcer that I developed was because of coffee or hard liquor. It wasn't bacterial though (which is the most common cause of an ulcer, the H. Pylori bacteria to be exact). I really miss my Keurig coffee maker and hope that I can return to drinking coffee (and not hard liquor). I think the verdict is still out on whether or not coffee is good or bad for you?

12:59AM PST on Jan 1, 2010

I can´t imagine living without "my coffee" in the morning!

8:15PM PST on Dec 20, 2009

There is no life without coffee for me. One of the simple pleasures of life....ahhhh

3:43AM PDT on Jun 15, 2009


11:42AM PDT on Apr 26, 2009

hello! i've been browsing around the net because something is worrying me. i've been a coffee drinker since highschool and i've loved coffee since then. i can say that coffee is one of my fave beverages because aside from that it keeps me awake when i have to study my law books, it helps me with my bowel movement. after drinking a cup, i just feel like going to the comfort room. thing is, i noticed that sometimes there is blood in my stool. and now i am really worried what this means. am i sick? do i have ulcer? i do not feel any pain in the stomach. though i have a history of hyper acidity way back when i was in elementary. could anyone help me find an explanation to this? thanks =)

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