by Dr. Iain Corness
Good news for coffaholics
The poor old coffee bean does come up
for a severe beating every so often. A Women’s Petition Against Coffee in
1674 declared: “ ...the Excessive Use of that Newfangled, Abominable,
Heathenish Liquor called Coffee has Eunucht our Husbands, and Crippled our
more kind Gallants, that they are become as Impotent, as Age.” In the Middle
Ages coffee may have cleared your head but had disastrous effects on the
male dangly bits. Of course, all this was before we invented blue diamonds.
However, some recent research will please the several cups of coffee
brigade. A new study in the journal Diabetologia says your morning cup of
heart starter may stave off type 2 diabetes.
The study combines three large US cohorts: 48,000 women in the Nurses’
Health Study (NHS), 47,000 women in NHS II, and 27,000 men in the Health
Professionals Follow-up Study. This adds up to more than 1.6 million
person-years of follow-up.
Dietary assessments were done every four years, including details about
coffee and tea intake. Patients were also asked to self-report a diagnosis
of type 2 diabetes. More than 7000 of them did.
The results? Coffee lovers, rejoice. The highest coffee consumers had the
lowest diabetes risk. Those who drank three or more cups of coffee per day
had a 37 percent lower risk for diabetes as compared to those who limited
their intake to one cup per day.
Those who increased their daily coffee intake by one-and-a-half cups had an
11 percent lower risk of getting diabetes as compared to those who didn’t
boost their java intake.
On the other side of the coffee cup, those who cut coffee intake by two cups
per day had a 17 percent higher risk of developing diabetes.
In this study, one cup was just eight ounces of straight-up black, regular,
caffeinated coffee - not decaf and no lattes, no cappuccinos, and not much
milk and sugar.
However, you should also take note that coffee has been studied many times
since 1674 and Dr De-Kun Li of Kaiser Permanente Division of Research, whose
study involved 1063 pregnant women who never changed their caffeine
consumption during pregnancy. What they found was women who consumed the
equivalent of two or more cups of regular coffee or five 340 ml cans of
caffeinated soft drink - were twice as likely to miscarry as pregnant women
who avoided caffeine.
However, this study of 1063 pregnant women is also a very small percentage
of women world-wide who drink coffee while they are pregnant.
However, two days after the shock-horror miscarriage item hit the world
media, there was another report. Researchers now claim the much-demonized
substance may fight cancer.
After studying more than 80,000 women, US and Australian experts found foods
containing caffeine - such as coffee, tea, cola and chocolate - may reduce
the risk of ovarian cancer, the sixth-most common cause of cancer deaths
among Australian women.
According to the researchers, caffeine was beneficial, but decaffeinated
coffee showed no health benefit at all.
For reasons they cannot yet explain, the group also found the beneficial
effect of caffeine was strongest for women who had never used oral
contraceptives or postmenopausal replacement hormone therapy.
The researchers analyzed data from the Nurses’ Health Study, an ongoing
assessment of the well-being of 212,701 female registered nurses that began
in 1976 when the nurses were aged 30-35.
Every two years, researchers at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital
checked up on the surviving women. After studying the nurses’ history, the
researchers found only a very small association between smoking and mucinous
tumours, a rare form of ovarian cancer. They also found no connection
between alcohol consumption and ovarian cancer.
Oncologist Ian Olver, head of Cancer Council Australia, said, “It’s well
worth looking into further,” and even coffee and chocolate couldn’t hurt and
might even help. “My standard advice is everything in moderation,” he said.
The whole research really hangs on Professor Olver’s statement, “It’s well
worth looking into further.” And research salaries and equipment costs
money, and where does it come from? Make the biggest claims with the
greatest amount of shock-horror and funding will be forthcoming. Mark my
words, the chocolate manufacturers will jump on this like blowflies on a
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