Viva la cafe

Stud­ies find that cof­fee drinkers live longer and have lower risk of dis­ease.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Health - By BRADLEY J. FIKES

COF­FEE drinkers live longer, ac­cord­ing to two large-scale stud­ies re­leased re­cently that add to ex­ten­sive re­search in­di­cat­ing cof­fee con­sump­tion is as­so­ci­ated with bet­ter health.

The stud­ies ex­am­ined the health his­to­ries of hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple who were tracked over many years. They found that cof­fee-drink­ing re­duced the risk of var­i­ous dis­eases among peo­ple from sev­eral eth­nic­i­ties, and this ef­fect was seen in drinkers of reg­u­lar or de­caf­feinated cof­fee.

And the more cof­fee con­sumed, the greater the ben­e­fit.

These are ob­ser­va­tional stud­ies, not con­trolled clin­i­cal tri­als. So while they demon­strate an as­so­ci­a­tion, they don’t prove cause and ef­fect.

But at the least, re­searchers said the lat­est ev­i­dence re­in­forces a large body of pre­vi­ous re­ports in­di­cat­ing there’s no harm from cof­fee – and that it might very well ben­e­fit peo­ple’s health.

Both of the new stud­ies were pub­lished in the An­nals of In­ter­nal Medicine. They asked par­tic­i­pants about whether they drank cof­fee, and if so, how much. Par­tic­i­pants were also asked about habits that in­flu­ence health, such as smok­ing, ex­er­cise and heart dis­ease.

One study was led by Veron­ica W. Se­ti­awan of the Univer­sity of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia. Funded by the US Na­tional Can­cer In­sti­tute, it ex­am­ined cof­fee-drink­ing habits among more than 180,000 whites, African-Amer­i­cans, Lati­nos, Ja­panese-Amer­i­cans and na­tive Hawai­ians. They were fol­lowed for an av­er­age of 16 years.

The other was per­formed by Euro­pean sci­en­tists from Im­pe­rial Col­lege Lon­don and the In­ter­na­tional Agency for Re­search on Can­cer, led by Marc J. Gunter of the IARC. It ex­am­ined cof­fee-drink­ing among more than 520,000 adults from 10 Euro­pean coun­tries.

The study led by Se­ti­awan found those drink­ing one cup of cof­fee daily had a 12% lower risk of death from heart dis­ease, can­cer, stroke, di­a­betes, re­s­pi­ra­tory and kid­ney dis­ease.

For those drink­ing three cups a day, the risk re­duc­tion rose to 18%.

In pre­vi­ous stud­ies, the great ma­jor­ity of those ex­am­ined were white, mean­ing that en­vi­ron­men­tal and life­style dif­fer­ences among eth­nic­i­ties could have con­founded the re­sults.

But her study found these ben­e­fits to oc­cur re­gard­less of the eth­nic­ity stud­ied.

The study led by Gunter like­wise found a lower death risk from var­i­ous ail­ments, in­clud­ing diges­tive, cir­cu­la­tory and liver dis­ease.

The re­la­tion­ship was the same re­gard­less of coun­try, the study found. It was funded by the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion Direc­torateGen­eral for Health and Con­sumers and In­ter­na­tional Agency for Re­search on Can­cer.

The stud­ies make a sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to knowl­edge about cof­fee and health, said Peter Adams, pro­fes­sor of the Tu­mor Ini­ti­a­tion and Main­te­nance Pro­gram at San­ford Burn­ham Pre­bys Med­i­cal Dis­cov­ery In­sti­tute in the United States.

“It’s good to know that not every­thing that gives you a buzz is bad for you,” Adams said by email.

“These two pub­li­ca­tions ex­tend the find­ings of pre­vi­ous stud­ies in­di­cat­ing the ap­par­ent ben­e­fits of cof­fee drink­ing,” he added. “While the data across these and pre­vi­ous in­ves­ti­ga­tions seems con­sis­tent and com­pelling, to be re­ally con­vinc­ing it is im­por­tant to fig­ure out how it works.

“As the authors note, cof­fee is a com­plex con­coc­tion, and caf­feine it­self does not seem to be re­spon­si­ble. Cof­fee does con­tain many other can­di­date mol­e­cules, for ex­am­ple an­tiox­i­dants.

“How­ever, re­cent stud­ies have chal­lenged the view that an­tiox­i­dants are al­ways ben­e­fi­cial. Ox­i­dants may not cause age­ing as pre­vi­ously thought, and an­tiox­i­dants can even help can­cer cells to sur­vive!

“So un­til we fig­ure out how it works, you can keep drink­ing cof­fee and stay off the ex­pen­sive an­tiox­i­dants from the phar­macy,” he said.

Cof­fee is most renowned for its stim­u­lant ef­fect, pro­vided by caf­feine. How­ever, in­di­vid­u­als re­spond dif­fer­ently based on their ge­net­ics. Some peo­ple are metabol­i­cally fast at break­ing down caf­feine, oth­ers metabolise it more slowly.

This has health con­se­quences. One of the few stud­ies that showed some harm in cof­fee found that slow metabolis­ers who drank four or more cups of reg­u­lar cof­fee a day ex­pe­ri­ence a 36% greater risk of non-fa­tal heart at­tacks.

How­ever, fast metabolis­ers who drank that much cof­fee had a lower risk of heart at­tacks. The pre­sump­tive ex­pla­na­tion is that the non-caf­feine com­po­nents of cof­fee ex­ert ben­e­fi­cial ef­fects, and fast metabolis­ers clear caf­feine quickly enough to avoid harm from an ex­ces­sive dose. – The San Diego Union-Tri­bune/Tri­bune News Ser­vice

Re­searchers said the lat­est ev­i­dence re­in­forces a large body of pre­vi­ous re­ports in­di­cat­ing there’s no harm from cof­fee – and that it might very well ben­e­fit peo­ple’s health. — TNS

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