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Coffee Caution: It Can Interfere With Some Medications

There's been a lot of good news lately about coffee's health benefits, how it protects against  cancer and other diseases,  but America's favorite wake-up drink can also keep some common medications from working properly.

That's because the coffee you drink in the morning with some of your prescription drugs can either block their absorption or increase their effects, reports the New York Times.

With some of these drugs, the interaction is caused by caffeine; with others, its coffee's other compounds that seem to be having an effect.

Studies show that drugs like antidepressants, thyroid medication and osteoporosis drugs can be affected by coffee. That's important to know considering Americans on average drink three cups of coffee daily , most of it in the morning, says the National Coffee Association.

A study found that taking the osteoporosis drug alendronate (brand name, Fosamax) with black coffee or orange juice reduced its absorption by about 60 percent. The drug needs to be taken with water on an empty stomach at least 30 minutes before breakfast for optimum effect.

People who swallowed their thyroid drug with coffee or espresso reduced its absorption up to 55 percent, a 2008 study found.

On the other hand, some prescription drugs can keep that caffeine buzz going for a longer time, increasing your heart rate and making you feel jittery. These drugs slow the rate at which the body breaks down caffeine and gets rid of it.

Drugs that can increase caffeine's effects include some antibacterial drugs (Cipro, for example), some antidepressants (specifically, MAOIs), and asthma drugs like albuterol and theophylline.

Check with your doctor or pharmacist about whether coffee can interact with your medication. With some drugs, you may need to take your pills with water and wait awhile to have that cup of joe. With others, drinking decaf or cutting back on your coffee habit may be in order.

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