The Changing Face of Coffee
In the recent times, coffee has undergone rapid image rehabilitation, a multitude of research findings from across the world have reversed the perception about coffee. Highly traded, obsessively indulged, this popular beverage has been intensely studied by the medical community, throwing up interesting data and analysis. Since the beginning of this year, there have been about ten research findings which indicate that coffee is beneficial to health. Some of the prominent, widely read, commented and cited coffee- health link research is detailed here, validating that coffee does have health perks.
Drinking coffee keeps MS at bay
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects nerves in the brain and spinal cord which lead to problems of muscle movement, balance and vision. Though it is more prevalent in the countries father away from equator, with less exposure to vitamin D, the disease still affects many in India.
Previous research studies have found that coffee consumption has beneficial effects on neurological disorders like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Disease, a recent study further supports that it can also protects against another one of the neurological disorder - Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
The combined finding of an US and Swedish study was released ahead of the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology. The research has found that drinking large amounts of coffee helps reduce the onset of MS.
The Swedish research which examined a total of 1,629 patients with MS and 2,807 healthy subjects found that those who did not drink coffee had about one and a half times increased risk of developing MS, compared to people who drank six or more cups of coffee per day during the year prior to the onset of MS symptoms.
The US research which had 1,159 patients with MS and 1,172 healthy subjects also found that people who did not consume coffee in the year prior to the onset of symptoms were approximately 1.5 times more likely to develop MS, compared with those who consumed at least four cups of coffee a day.
The research analysed the amount of coffee consumption for one, five and ten years before the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis in study subjects became evident. The study also accounted for other factors bearing an impact on MS like age, gender, smoking habit, exposure to sun.
"Caffeine intake has been associated with a reduced risk of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases," said lead author Ellen Mowry of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore. ''Our study shows that coffee intake may also protect against MS, supporting the idea that the drug may have protective effects for the brain,'' she added.
Swedish Medical Research Council, the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare, the Knut and Alice Wallenberg, AFA, and Swedish Brain Foundations, the Swedish Association for Persons with Neurological Disabilities and the U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Institute on Aging were some of the organisations supporting the study.
Drinking coffee neutralises cancer caused by alcoholic habit
The continuous update project of UK based World Cancer Research Fund International has published a study on the discovery on diet, nutrition, physical activity and liver cancer. The study was a result of an investigation into 34 studies involving 8.2 million people including 24,500 people with liver cancer. Through this study it became apparent that drinking coffee can actually lower the risk of developing liver cancer.
The study indicates that drinking three alcoholic drinks per day increased the risk of getting liver cancer but a cup of coffee everyday offset the risk and lowers it by 14%. Researchers think that this could be due to the anti-inflammatory property of coffee. "Both coffee and coffee extracts have also been shown to reduce the expression of genes involved in inflammation, and the effects appear to be most pronounced in the liver," the report concludes.
Coffee reduces the risk of recurrence of breast cancer
Diagnosed with Breast Cancer, coffee might help,saythe results of a new study; but ofcourse with appropriate treatment. The study lead by Lund University in Sweden has confirmed that coffee intake inhibits the growth of tumours and reduces the risk of recurrence in women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer and are being treated with tamoxifen.
Tamoxifen is a drug prescribed for women who have developed breast cancer or are at a high risk of developing it. The study analyses data obtained from 1090 breast cancer patients and takes into consideration details of lifestyle and clinical data.
"The study shows that among over 500 women treated with tamoxifen, those who had drunk at least two cups of coffee a day had only half the risk of recurrence than those who drank less coffee or none at all", explain researchers Ann Rosendahl and Helena Jernström, who obtained the results in collaboration with Jeff Holly and his research team at University of Bristol.
The study also showed that those who drank at least two cups of coffee a day had smaller tumours and lower proportion of hormone-dependent tumours. The researchers closely studied two substances in coffee - caffeine and caffeic acid for the cell study. It was observed that the breast cancer cells reacted to the substances especially caffeine which reduces cell division and increased cell death especially in combination with tamoxifen indicating that the substances from coffee had an effect on the breast cancer cells turning off signalling pathways that the cancer cells require to grow. The research demonstrated that coffee seems to reinforce the effect of tamoxifen treatment.
This new study is the follow up of the results obtained two years ago and a joint effort of Lund University, Skane University Hospital in collaboration with researchers in UK. The researchers conclude that if people affected with breast cancer like coffee and are being treated with tamoxifen, then there would be no reason to stop the habit; just two cups a day makes a difference.
Source: Lund University, Sweden
Coffee beneficial for endometrial cancer
Nine everyday food choices along with coffee was studied to discern the effect on endometrial cancer and coffee is by far the best food that women could have, coffee intake is inversely associated with endometrial cancer risk according to a study recently published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention.
Endometrial Cancer begins in the lining of the uterus, usually due to hormonal imbalances, diabetes obesity and unhealthy diet. Though prevalent in the western countries, India fairly has a lower numbers with few women afflicted with the disease.
The study analysed two groups of women with endometrial cancer who were part of European Prospective Investigation Into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) Study and Nurses' Health Study. Overall 2834 cases were studied for 9 foods - fat, monounsaturated fat, phosphorus, carbohydrates, yogurt, butter, potatoes, cheese along with coffee. Women who drank about 3-4 cups of coffee a day had 18% lesser risk compared to those who did not drink any coffee at all.
''Our findings suggest that coffee intake may be inversely associated with endometrial cancer risk. Further data are needed to confirm these findings and to examine the mechanisms linking coffee intake to endometrial cancer risk to develop improved prevention strategies'' say the researchers.
Source: Merritt M, et al. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. 2015.
Coffee reduces the risk of clogged arteries
The association of coffee consumption with cardiovascular disease (CVD) has always been highly contentious. Despite earlier concerns about coffee consumption and possibility of CVD, recent research published in the journal Heart indicates that moderate coffee consumption reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. The research was done by a team of researchers lead by Kangbuk Samsung hospital, Seoul, Republic of Korea.
The team analysed the link between coffee consumption habits and CVD by examining the presence of calcium deposits in the arteries that could lead to future clots, hardening of arteries and heart attacks. The study found that people consuming a moderate amount of coffee of about 3 to 5 cups a day were less likely to develop calcium deposits and clogged arteries that could lead to heart attacks.
The research studied over 25,000 men and women with an average age of 41 and had no indication of heart diseases. The study involved a cardiac CT scan that determined the level of calcium deposits in the participants.
The coffee-calcium deposit association was found to be U-shaped with participants drinking 3-5 cups per day having the lowest calcium deposits. The ratio of calcium deposits in people who had less than 1 cup per day was 0.77, 0.66 for those who consumed between 1 to 5 cups a day, 0.59 for those consuming 3 to 5 cups per day and 0.81 for people having 5 or more cups per day compared with non-coffee drinking participants.
The researchers said that ''Our study adds to a growing body of evidence suggesting that coffee consumption might be inversely associated with CVD risk.Further research is warranted to confirm our findings and establish the biological basis of coffee's potential preventive effects on coronary artery disease.''
Source: Kangbuk Samsung Hospital, Seoul, Republic of Korea
Whilst, various research studies indicate that coffee has a beneficial effect on health or inverse effect on diseases; the scientists involved stress the need for further investigation for conclusive and definite stand.
However for us coffee drinkers, what is heartening is that the stigma attached to coffee consumption has now diminished. We only have to focus on cultivating a moderate consumption habit of less than five cups a day and reduce including excessive amounts of sugar or cream to our coffees.