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Monthly Archives: December 2016

Drink Coffe For Your Health

If you have a daily coffee habit, here’s something to buzz about: A new study finds those cups of joe may help boost longevity.

“In our study, we found people who drank three to five cups of coffee per day had about a 15 percent lower [risk of premature] mortality compared to people who didn’t drink coffee,” says one of the study authors, nutrition researcher Walter Willett of the Harvard School of Public Health. Decaf drinkers also saw benefits.

The findings, published in the journal Circulation, build on a body of evidence linking a coffee habit to potential health benefits.

As we’ve reported, previous research has pointed to a decreased risk of stroke. And, there’s some evidence that a coffee habit cuts the risk of Type 2 diabetes, too.

Now, of course, it’s possible to overdo it with caffeine. Research has shown that consuming more than 400 milligrams of caffeine can interfere with sleep and create feelings of unease. And some of us are even more sensitive. (I feel jittery if I have more than one strong cup!)

One study found that 200 milligrams of caffeine (the equivalent of about two cups of coffee) is an optimal amount to enhance cognitive function and mood among sleep-deprived people. But we don’t all metabolize caffeine the same way.

As we’ve reported, the caffeine amounts in coffee vary wildly. One analysis, conducted by Bruce Goldberger, found a 16-ounce cup of caffeinated coffee from Starbucks could contain anywhere from 250 milligrams to more than 500 milligrams of caffeine.

“Not everyone reacts to coffee in the same way,” says Andrew Maynard, who studies risk assessment at Arizona State University. He summarizes the benefits documented in this study as “small.”

He says this study does not prove cause and effect between drinking coffee and living longer. Rather, it points to an association. “There are a lot of unknowns as to what [may explain] the increase in life expectancy,” Maynard says.

Got more questions? So did we. Here’s our conversation about the findings with study co-author Walter Willett, edited for length and clarity.

So, what do you think might explain this association? In the study, you point to compounds in coffee — such as lignans, quinides and magnesium — that may help reduce insulin resistance and inflammation. Prior studies have pointed to these as well.

We’re not sure exactly how coffee is [linked] to all these benefits. The coffee bean itself is loaded with many different nutrients and phytochemicals. And my guess is that they’re working together to have some of these benefits.

We [see] similar benefits from caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee. That’s important, because it suggests that caffeine is not responsible for [the benefit].

So this may be welcome news to people who drink decaf?

Yes, because too much [caffeinated] coffee can cause insomnia and loss of sleep, and that’s not a good thing!

The reduced risk of death was not seen among the coffee drinkers in your study who were smokers or former smokers.

Definitely. It’s extremely important to disentangle the effects of coffee from the effects of cigarette smoking.

So, what’s the take-home here? Is it that coffee can be part of a healthy lifestyle?

I think if people like coffee, it’s fine to include it [as part of your daily habit]. So, certainly, [people] should not feel guilty about moderate coffee consumption. It definitely can be part of a healthy lifestyle.

I wouldn’t suggest that someone who doesn’t like coffee go out and drink it.

Are you a coffee drinker? Are these findings likely to influence your own behaviors?

Well, I really like a good cup of coffee. But if I have more than two cups a day, I really don’t sleep as well. So, I’ve been switching more toward decaf or half decaf/half regular.

In this study, you also analyzed how coffee influenced the risk of specific diseases — or categories of diseases. What did you find?

We went beyond total mortality and looked at specific causes of death. And we found that people who drink moderate amounts of coffee have lower risk of [death] from cardiovascular disease, diabetes, neurologic disease [such as Parkinson’s] and suicide.

Your findings come from data from two Nurses’ Health Studies, which included about 167,000 women. And it also looked at the 40,000 men in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study.

As you point out, the participants in these studies are about 95 percent white, largely middle-class and well-educated. Can you extrapolate to other populations?

Yes, I’m quite sure these findings would apply to other populations. This is a biological relationship. And we basically have a common biology.

Health Benefits and Nutritional Information From Coffee

A cup of coffee in the morning may pack more than just an energy boost.

More and more research is emerging to suggest that there may be several health benefits associated with drinking this dark black beverage, from helping prevent diabetes to lowering the risk of liver disease.

The consumption of coffee goes back centuries.

In 17th century England the popularity of the drink gave rise to a number of coffee houses which were dubbed ‘penny universities’, because with one penny a person could buy a cup of coffee and have intellectually stimulating conversations with other people.

Nowadays, with over 400 billion cups consumed every year, coffee is one of the world’s most popular drinks. But what makes it special?

Possible health benefits of coffee

The potential health benefits associated with drinking coffee include: protecting against type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, liver disease, liver cancer, and promoting a healthy heart.

1) Coffee and diabetes

Coffee may be protective against type 2 diabetes. Researchers at UCLA identified that drinking coffee increases plasma levels of the protein sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG). SHBG controls the biological activity of the body’s sex hormones (testosterone and estrogen) which play a role in the development of type 2 diabetes.

Dr. Simin Liu, one of the authors of the study, said that an “inverse association” exists between coffee consumption and risk for type 2 diabetes.

Increased coffee consumption may reduce risk of type 2 diabetes – the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers gathered data from three studies. In these studies, the diets of the participants were evaluated using questionnaires every 4 years, with participants who reported having type 2 diabetes filling out additional questionnaires. In total, 7,269 study participants had type 2 diabetes.

The researchers found that the participants who increased their coffee intake by more than one cup a day (on average, an increase of 1.69 cups per day) over a 4-year period had an 11% lower type 2 diabetes risk over the subsequent 4 years, compared with people who did not change their intake.

2) Coffee and Parkinson’s disease

Researchers in the U.S. carried out a study that assessed the link between coffee consumption and Parkinson’s disease risk. The authors of the study concluded that “higher coffee and caffeine intake is associated with a significantly lower incidence of Parkinson’s disease”.

In addition, caffeine in coffee may help control movement in people suffering from Parkinson’s, according to a study conducted at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI MUHC) that was published in the journal Neurology.

3) Coffee and liver cancer

Italian researchers found that coffee consumption lowers the risk of liver cancer by about 40%. In addition, some of the results suggest that if you drink three cups a day, the risks are reduced by more than 50%.

The lead author of the study, Dr. Carlo La Vecchia, from Milan’s Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri, said “our research confirms past claims that coffee is good for your health and particularly the liver.”

4) Coffee and liver disease

Regular consumption of coffee is linked to a reduced risk of primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), a rare autoimmune disease of the bile ducts in the liver.

In addition, coffee consumption can lower the incidence of cirrhosis of the liver for alcohol drinkers by 22%, according to a study at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, California, USA.

The authors of the study concluded that the results “support the hypothesis that there is an ingredient in coffee that protects against cirrhosis, especially alcoholic cirrhosis.”

Research published in the journal Hepatology in April 2014, suggested that drinking coffee is linked to a decreased liver cirrhosis death risk. The researchers suggested that drinking two or more cups of coffee every day can reduce the risk of death from liver cirrhosis by 66%.

A study published in the journal Hepatology indicates that drinking decaf coffee also lowers liver enzyme levels, suggesting the benefits are not linked to caffeine content.

5) Coffee and heart health

Researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and Harvard School of Public Health, concluded that drinking coffee in moderation protects against heart failure. They defined ‘in moderation’ as 2 European cups (equivalent to two 8-ounce American servings) per day.

People who drank four European cups on a daily basis had an 11% lower risk of heart failure, compared to those who did not.

The authors stressed that their results “did show a possible benefit, but like with so many other things we consume, it really depends on how much coffee you drink.”

Drinking more coffee may stave off multiple sclerosis

Six cups a day linked to 31% lower risk of MS

In both studies, participants provided information about their coffee drinking.

The Swedish participants quantified their usual daily intake in cups at different ages, from 15-19 years until they were 40 years and over.

In the US study, participants gave information about their maximum daily consumption. Those who drank one or more cups also recalled at what age they started drinking coffee regularly.

Fast facts about MS

  • Around 400,000 people live with MS in the US
  • There are approximately 10,000 new diagnoses each year
  • MS mostly affects white people, and women are more prone than men.

The researchers then estimated coffee consumption at and before the onset of symptoms in those with MS, and they compared the results with those of the healthy groups.

There was a consistently higher risk of MS among those who drank fewer cups of coffee every day in both studies, even after adjusting for factors such as smoking and weight during adolescence.

In the Swedish study, coffee consumption correlated with a lower risk of MS both at the onset of symptoms and 5-10 years beforehand. Those who consumed over six cups (900 ml+) daily had a 28-30% lower risk.

The US study revealed a 26-31% reduction in risk among those who drank above 948 ml daily at least 5 years before and at the start of symptoms, compared with those who never drank coffee.

Findings indicate that the more coffee people consume, the lower their risk of MS.

The authors caution that a causative link cannot be confirmed, since this was an observational study.

‘Role of coffee warrants further investigation’

Limitations include the possibility that patients with MS changed their coffee consumption some time between receiving a diagnosis and giving the information, potentially influencing the results. Participants might also not have recalled their coffee consumption accurately.

The effects could also be due to another chemical component of coffee rather than caffeine. The team calls for further research.

Their findings support those of previous animal studies of MS, and they strengthen existing evidence that caffeine protects against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

In a linked editorial, Dr. Elaine Kingwell and Dr. José Maria Andreas Wijnands, of the Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, point to inconsistencies in previous studies, but they express the hope that a better understanding of MS etiology may lead to novel MS therapies.

They write:

“Although it remains to be shown whether drinking coffee can prevent the development of MS, the results of these thorough analyses add to the growing evidence for the beneficial health effects of coffee. […] The role of coffee in the development of MS clearly warrants further investigation, as do the mechanisms that underlie the relationship.”

The researchers note that while the findings do not confirm that coffee drinking can prevent MS, they add to growing evidence that coffee may be good for health.

Possible health benefits of coffee

1) Coffee and diabetes

Coffee may be protective against type 2 diabetes. Researchers at UCLA identified that drinking coffee increases plasma levels of the protein sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG). SHBG controls the biological activity of the body’s sex hormones (testosterone and estrogen) which play a role in the development of type 2 diabetes.

Dr. Simin Liu, one of the authors of the study, said that an “inverse association” exists between coffee consumption and risk for type 2 diabetes.

Increased coffee consumption may reduce risk of type 2 diabetes – the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers gathered data from three studies. In these studies, the diets of the participants were evaluated using questionnaires every 4 years, with participants who reported having type 2 diabetes filling out additional questionnaires. In total, 7,269 study participants had type 2 diabetes.

The researchers found that the participants who increased their coffee intake by more than one cup a day (on average, an increase of 1.69 cups per day) over a 4-year period had an 11% lower type 2 diabetes risk over the subsequent 4 years, compared with people who did not change their intake.

2) Coffee and Parkinson’s disease

Researchers in the U.S. carried out a study that assessed the link between coffee consumption and Parkinson’s disease risk. The authors of the study concluded that “higher coffee and caffeine intake is associated with a significantly lower incidence of Parkinson’s disease”.

In addition, caffeine in coffee may help control movement in people suffering from Parkinson’s, according to a study conducted at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI MUHC) that was published in the journal Neurology.

3) Coffee and liver cancer

Italian researchers found that coffee consumption lowers the risk of liver cancer by about 40%. In addition, some of the results suggest that if you drink three cups a day, the risks are reduced by more than 50%.

The lead author of the study, Dr. Carlo La Vecchia, from Milan’s Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri, said “our research confirms past claims that coffee is good for your health and particularly the liver.”

4) Coffee and liver disease

Regular consumption of coffee is linked to a reduced risk of primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), a rare autoimmune disease of the bile ducts in the liver.

In addition, coffee consumption can lower the incidence of cirrhosis of the liver for alcohol drinkers by 22%, according to a study at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, California, USA.

The authors of the study concluded that the results “support the hypothesis that there is an ingredient in coffee that protects against cirrhosis, especially alcoholic cirrhosis.”

Research published in the journal Hepatology in April 2014, suggested that drinking coffee is linked to a decreased liver cirrhosis death risk. The researchers suggested that drinking two or more cups of coffee every day can reduce the risk of death from liver cirrhosis by 66%.

A study published in the journal Hepatology indicates that drinking decaf coffee also lowers liver enzyme levels, suggesting the benefits are not linked to caffeine content.

5) Coffee and heart health

Researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and Harvard School of Public Health, concluded that drinking coffee in moderation protects against heart failure. They defined ‘in moderation’ as 2 European cups (equivalent to two 8-ounce American servings) per day.

People who drank four European cups on a daily basis had an 11% lower risk of heart failure, compared to those who did not.

The authors stressed that their results “did show a possible benefit, but like with so many other things we consume, it really depends on how much coffee you drink.”