Medicine's accusing finger, habitually wagging at life's pleasures, has not bypassed the coffee cup. Although a comparatively recent arrival on the pleasure scene—it became fashionable in the Western world less than three centuries ago—coffee competes successfully with the older pleasures of the table, the bed, and the wine cellar as a target of medical attacks. A testimony to the intensity of these assaults is the "Coffee Cantata" composed by Bach in protest against a proposed ban on coffee for women, a discriminatory measure motivated not by bias but by the notion that coffee is an abortifacient.
Other notions, some equally absurd, some well founded, some still in the realm of uncertainty, have followed since and many still persist. There is, for instance, little doubt that coffee can aggravate the symptoms of peptic ulcer by stimulating gastric acid secretion (curiously, the secretagogue may not be caffeine, but some other as yet