Three cups of cof­fee a day keep the doc­tor away

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

Cof­fee ad­dicts and afi­ciona­dos of­ten say drink­ing the bit­ter liq­uid makes life worth liv­ing, but the habit may also help them live longer, ac­cord­ing to two ma­jor in­ter­na­tional stud­ies yes­ter­day. Ex­perts cau­tioned, how­ever, that the US and Euro­pean re­ports, pub­lished in the An­nals of In­ter­nal Medicine, failed to show that cof­fee was truly the rea­son that many drinkers ap­peared to have longer lives. Rather, the stud­ies were ob­ser­va­tional in na­ture, mean­ing they showed an as­so­ci­a­tion be­tween cof­fee-drink­ing and a propen­sity to­ward longevity, but stopped short of prov­ing cause and ef­fect.

The first study, led by the In­ter­na­tional Agency for Re­search on Can­cer (IARC) and Im­pe­rial Col­lege Lon­don, ex­am­ined more than half a mil­lion peo­ple across 10 coun­tries in Europe. Those who drank about three cups a day tended to live longer than non-cof­fee drinkers, said the study, which re­searchers de­scribed as the largest anal­y­sis of the ef­fects of cof­fee-drink­ing in a Euro­pean pop­u­la­tion.

“We found that higher cof­fee con­sump­tion was as­so­ci­ated with a lower risk of death from any cause, and specif­i­cally for cir­cu­la­tory dis­eases, and di­ges­tive dis­eases,” said lead au­thor Marc Gunter of the IARC, for­merly at Im­pe­rial’s School of Pub­lic Health. “Im­por­tantly, these re­sults were sim­i­lar across all of the 10 Euro­pean coun­tries, with vari­able cof­fee drink­ing habits and cus­toms.”

The sec­ond study in­cluded more than 180,000 par­tic­i­pants of var­i­ous eth­nic back­grounds in the United States. It found ben­e­fits to longevity whether the cof­fee was caf­feinated or de­caf­feinated. Cof­fee drinkers had a lower risk of death due to heart dis­ease, can­cer, stroke, di­a­betes, and res­pi­ra­tory and kid­ney dis­ease. Those who drank one cup a day were 12 per­cent less likely to die com­pared to those who didn’t drink cof­fee.

Those who drank two or three cups per day saw an even higher 18 per­cent re­duced risk of death. “We can­not say drink­ing cof­fee will pro­long your life, but we see an as­so­ci­a­tion,” said lead au­thor Veron­ica Se­ti­awan, an as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of pre­ven­tive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of Univer­sity of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia. “If you like to drink cof­fee, drink up! If you’re not a cof­fee drinker, then you need to con­sider if you should start.”

Cof­fee is one of the most pop­u­lar drinks in the world. Some 2.25 bil­lion cups are con­sumed ev­ery day. Many prior stud­ies have hailed the ben­e­fits of cof­fee-drink­ing, say­ing the bev­er­age im­parts anti-ox­i­dants, may im­prove liver func­tion and re­duce in­flam­ma­tion. But cof­fee may carry risks for some peo­ple, and preg­nant wo­man and chil­dren are urged to avoid caf­feine, which can be fa­tal in high doses. A re­port from the IARC last year that said drink­ing very hot bev­er­ages - cof­fee, tea or oth­er­wise - is one prob­a­ble cause of can­cer of the esoph­a­gus, the tube that runs from the throat to the stom­ach.

Ex­perts who were not in­volved in the lat­est stud­ies urged cau­tion in in­ter­pret­ing the re­sults. For in­stance, the Euro­pean study ex­cluded peo­ple who had can­cer, heart dis­ease or di­a­betes, mean­ing it took a mea­sure of peo­ple over 35 who were al­ready gen­er­ally healthy. It also asked about cof­fee con­sump­tion just once, at the be­gin­ning, and did not up­date this fig­ure over the span of the study, which in­cluded an av­er­age fol­low-up time of 16 years.

Fi­nally, it found signs of a link be­tween women who drank large amounts of cof­fee and a higher risk of can­cer death, but down­played this find­ing, say­ing it “may be spu­ri­ous”. The “con­clu­sions will not lead me to start drink­ing cof­fee or to rec­om­mend peo­ple drink more cof­fee as a way to lessen their risks for heart dis­ease,” said Naveed Sat­tar, pro­fes­sor of meta­bolic medicine at the Univer­sity of Glas­gow. “I re­main un­con­vinced that the link be­tween cof­fee and heart dis­ease rep­re­sents a true cause and ef­fect re­la­tion­ship and that cof­fee is truly pro­tec­tive, re­gard­less of how large a study sug­gests this.”— AFP

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