Where do we now stand on cof­fee?

Lesotho Times - - Health -

IT’S one of the age-old med­i­cal flip-flops: First cof­fee’s good for you, then it’s not, then it is — you get the pic­ture.

To­day, in 2015, the ver­dict is thumbs up, with study af­ter study ex­tolling the mer­its of three to five cups of black cof­fee a day in re­duc­ing risk for ev­ery­thing from melanoma to heart dis­ease, mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis, type 2 di­a­betes, Parkin­son’s dis­ease, liver dis­ease, prostate can­cer, Alzheimer’s, com­puter-re­lated back pain and more.

To stay com­pletely healthy with your cof­fee con­sump­tion, you’ll want to avoid pack­ing it with calo­rie laden creams, sug­ars and flavours. And be aware that a cup of cof­fee in these stud­ies is only 228g grammes; the stan­dard “grande” cup at the cof­fee shop is dou­ble that at 453 grammes.

And how you brew it has health con­se­quences. Un­like fil­ter cof­fee mak­ers, the French press, Turk­ish cof­fee or the boiled cof­fee pop­u­lar in Scan­di­na­vian coun­tries fail to catch a com­pound called cafestol in the oily part of cof­fee that can in­crease your bad choles­terol or LDL.

Fi­nally, peo­ple with sleep is­sues or un­con­trolled di­a­betes should check with a doc­tor be­fore adding caf­feine to their di­ets, as should preg­nant women, as there is some con­cern about caf­feine’s ef­fect on fe­tal growth and mis­car­riage. And some of the latest re­search seems to say that our genes may be re­spon­si­ble for how we re­act to cof­fee, ex­plain­ing why some of us need sev­eral cups to get a boost while oth­ers get the jit­ters on only one.

But as you know, the news on cof­fee has not al­ways been pos­i­tive. And the ar­gu­ment over the mer­its of your daily cup of joe dates back cen­turies. Let’s take a look at the timeline.

1500’s head­line: Cof­fee leads to illegal

sex Leg­end has it that cof­fee was dis­cov­ered by Kaldi, an Ethiopian goatherd, af­ter he caught his sud­denly frisky goats eat­ing glossy green leaves and red berries and then tried it for him­self. But it was the Arabs who first started cof­fee­houses, and that’s where cof­fee got its first black mark.

Cof­fee leads to illegal sex? Well, not enough of it was cer­tainly grounds for di­vorce!

Pa­trons of cof­fee­houses were said to be more likely to gam­ble and en­gage in “crim­i­nally un­ortho­dox sex­ual sit­u­a­tions,” ac­cord­ing to au­thor Ralph Hat­tox. By 1511 the mayor of Mecca shut them down. He cited med­i­cal and re­li­gious rea­sons, say­ing cof­fee was an in­tox­i­cant and thus pro­hib­ited by Is­lamic law, even though scholars like Mark Pendergrast be­lieve it was more likely a re­ac­tion to the un­pop­u­lar com­ments about his lead­er­ship. The ban didn’t last long, says Pendergrast, adding that cof­fee be­came so im­por­tant in Tur­key that “a lack of suf­fi­cient cof­fee pro­vided grounds for a woman to seek a di­vorce.”

1600’s head­line: Cof­fee cures al­co­holism

but causes im­po­tence As the pop­u­lar­ity of cof­fee grew and spread across the con­ti­nent, the med­i­cal com­mu­nity be­gan to ex­tol its ben­e­fits. It was es­pe­cially pop­u­lar in Eng­land as a cure for al­co­holism, one of the big­gest med­i­cal prob­lems of the time; af­ter all, wa­ter wasn’t al­ways safe to drink, so most men, women and even chil­dren drank the hard stuff.

Lo­cal ads such as this one in 1652 by cof­fee shop owner Pasqua Rosée pop­u­lar­ized cof­fee’s healthy sta­tus, claim­ing cof­fee could aid di­ges­tion, pre­vent and cure gout and scurvy, help coughs, headaches and stom­ach-aches, even pre­vent mis­car­riages.

1700’s head­line: Cof­fee helps you work

longer By 1730, tea had re­placed cof­fee in Lon­don as the daily drink of choice. That pref­er­ence con­tin­ued in the colonies un­til 1773, when the fa­mous Bos­ton Tea Party made it un­pa­tri­otic to drink tea. Cof­fee­houses popped up ev­ery­where, and the marvelous stim­u­lant qual­i­ties of the brew were said to con­trib­ute to the abil­ity of the colonists to work longer hours.

1927 head­line: Cof­fee will give you bad

grades, kids In Science Mag­a­zine, on Septem­ber 2, 1927, 80,000 ele­men­tary and ju­nior high kids were asked about their cof­fee drink­ing habits. Re- searchers found the “star­tling” fact that most of them drank more than a cup of cof­fee a day, which was then com­pared to schol­ar­ship with mostly neg­a­tive re­sults.

1970’s and ‘80’s head­line: Cof­fee is as se

ri­ous as a heart at­tack A 1973 study in the New Eng­land Jour­nal of Medicine of more than 12,000 pa­tients found drink­ing one to five cups of cof­fee a day in­creased risk of heart at­tacks by 60 per­cent while drink­ing six or more cups a day dou­bled that risk to 120 per­cent.

Another New Eng­land Jour­nal of Medicine study, in 1978, found a short-term rise in blood pres­sure af­ter three cups of cof­fee. Au­thors called for fur­ther re­search into caf­feine and hy­per­ten­sion.

A num­ber of stud­ies in the 1900’s found a con­nec­tion be­tween cof­fee con­sump­tion and heart health.

A 38-year study by the Johns Hop­kins Med­i­cal School of more than a 1,000 med­i­cal stu­dents found in 1985 that those who drank five or more cups of cof­fee a day were 2.8 times as likely to de­velop heart prob­lems com­pared to those who don’t con­sume cof­fee. But the study only asked ques­tions ev­ery five years, and didn’t iso­late smok­ing be­hav­ior or many other neg­a­tive be­hav­iors that tend to go along with cof­fee, such as dough­nuts. Or “Doooonuts,” if you’re Homer Simp­son.

Mil­len­nium head­line: Cof­fee goes meta Now be­gins the era of the meta-anal­y­sis, where re­searchers look at hun­dreds of stud­ies and ap­ply sci­en­tific prin­ci­ples to find those that do the best job of ran­dom­iz­ing and con­trol­ling for com­pound­ing fac­tors, such as smok­ing, obe­sity, lack of ex­er­cise and many other lifestyles is­sues. That means that a spe­cific study, which may or may not meet cer­tain stan­dards, can’t “tip the bal­ance” one way or another. We take a look at some of the years. The re­sults for cof­fee? Mostly good.

2001 head­line: Cof­fee in­creases risk of

uri­nary tract can­cer But first, a neg­a­tive: A 2001 study found a 20 per­cent in­crease in the risk of uri­nary tract can­cer risk for cof­fee drinkers, but not tea drinkers. That find­ing was re­peated in a 2015 meta-anal­y­sis. So, if this is a risk fac­tor in your fam­ily history, you might want to switch to tea.

2007 head­line: Cof­fee de­creases liver

can­cer risk Some of these data analy­ses found pre­ven­tive ben­e­fits for can­cer from drink­ing cof­fee, such as this one, which showed drink­ing two cups of black cof­fee a day could re­duce the risk of liver can­cer by 43 per­cent. Those find­ings were repli­cated in 2013 in two other stud­ies. 2010 head­line: Cof­fee and lung dis­ease

go to­gether like cof­fee and smok­ing A meta-anal­y­sis found a cor­re­la­tion be­tween cof­fee con­sump­tion and lung dis­ease, but the study found it im­pos­si­ble to com­pletely elim­i­nate the con­found­ing ef­fects of smok­ing.

2011 head­line: Cof­fee re­duces risk of

stroke and prostate can­cer A meta-anal­y­sis of 11 stud­ies on the link be­tween stroke risk and cof­fee con­sump­tion be­tween 1966 and 2011, with nearly a half a mil­lion par­tic­i­pants, found no neg­a­tive con­nec­tion. In fact, there was a small ben­e­fit in mod­er­ate con­sump­tion, which is con­sid­ered to be three to five cups of black cof­fee a day. Another meta-anal­y­sis of stud­ies be­tween 2001 and 2011 found four or more cups a day had a pre­ven­tive ef­fect on the risk of stroke.

As for prostate can­cer, this 2011 study fol­lowed nearly 59,000 men from 1986 to 2006 and found drink­ing cof­fee to be highly as­so­ci­ated with lower risk for the lethal form of the dis­ease.

2012 head­line: Cof­fee low­ers risk of

heart fail­ure More meta-anal­y­sis of stud­ies on heart fail­ure found four cups a day pro­vided the low­est risk for heart fail­ure, and you had to drink a whop­ping 10 cups a day to get a bad as­so­ci­a­tion.

2013 head­line: Cof­fee low­ers risk of heart dis­ease and helps you live longer For gen­eral heart dis­ease a meta-anal­y­sis of 36 stud­ies with more than 1.2 mil­lion par­tic­i­pants found mod­er­ate cof­fee drink­ing seemed to be as­so­ci­ated with a low risk for heart dis­ease; plus, there wasn’t a higher risk among those who drank more than five cups a day.

How about cof­fee’s ef­fects on your over­all risk of death? One anal­y­sis of 20 stud­ies, and another that in­cluded 17 stud­ies, both of which in­cluded more than a mil­lion peo­ple, found drink­ing cof­fee re­duced your to­tal mor­tal­ity risk slightly.

2015 head­line: Cof­fee is a health food In 2015, cof­fee is prac­ti­cally a health food. But standby for the next meta-anal­y­sis be­cause it could change. We’ll keep you up­dated.

As a sign of the times, the US Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture now agrees that “cof­fee can be in­cor­po­rated into a healthy lifestyle,” es­pe­cially if you stay within three to five cups a day (a max­i­mum of 400 mg of caf­feine), and avoid fat­ten­ing cream and sugar. You can read their anal­y­sis of the latest data on ev­ery­thing from di­a­betes to chronic dis­ease here.

But stay tuned. There’s sure to be another meta-study, and another opin­ion. We’ll keep you up­dated.



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