By Delia LLoyd.
Ever have one of those mornings where you wake up, jump in the shower, turn on the radio and hear the best news you’ve gotten in ages?
No, not world peace, but close.
Apparently, coffee is now good for you. It holds a host of physical — not to mention psychological — benefits which scientists are only now beginning to appreciate.
In a household where our espresso machine holds a hallowed place, this is definitely grounds for rejoicing. I haven’t been this excited since I learned that sugar made a comeback.
So hear ye, hear ye: Five reasons to drink (more!) coffee:
1. It reduces depression in women. This just in. A new study out of Harvard University shows that women who regularly drink coffee — the fully caffeinated kind — have a 20 percent lower risk of depression than nondrinkers. This comes on the heels of previous research showing that the risk of suicide decreases with increased coffee consumption.
2. It lowers the risk of lethal prostate cancer in men. But it’s not just the ladies who will benefit from more java. In another study out of Harvard (what are they drinking there? ahem!), men who drank six or more cups per day had a 60 percent lower risk of developing the most lethal type of prostate cancer, and a 20 percent lower risk of forming any type of prostate cancer compared to men who did not drink coffee. Given that prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men, that’s nothing to sneeze at.
3. It may protect against head and neck cancers. A study from the University of Utah showed that people who drank more than four cups of coffee a day had a 39 percent decreased risk of cancers of the oral cavity and pharynx combined, compared with those who didn’t drink coffee. Regular consumption of coffee has also been linked to a lower risk for brain tumors, reduced rates of colorectal and endometrial cancer, as well as liver cancer and cirrhosis.
4. It may ward off Alzheimer’s disease. Several studies looking at how caffeine affects brain development in mice have confirmed that caffeine significantly decreases abnormal levels of the protein linked to Alzheimer’s disease. When aged mice bred to develop symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease were given caffeine — the equivalent of five cups of coffee a day — their memory impairment was reversed, according to a report issued by the Florida Alzheimer’s Disease Research Centre. Should these results be replicated on humans, it might suggest coffee as an effective treatment for this disease, rather than just a protective strategy.
5. It appears to stave off diabetes. Numerous studies have shown that coffee may be protective against Type 2 Diabetes, although the precise mechanism is not well understood. An analysis in the Archives of Internal Medicine, for example, found that people who drink three to four cups of coffee a day are 25 percent less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than those who drink fewer than two cups. In the U.S. alone, nearly 24 million children and adults — nearly 8 percent of the population — have diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of the disease and accounts for about 90 to 95 percent of these cases.
Whether these studies will prove robust in coming years — or be cancelled out by some of caffeine’s adverse effects on things like sleep and high blood pressure — remains to be seen.
But I’m going to blithely hedge my bets and carry on enjoying my cuppa (or two).
Latte or Cappucino?
Source: Journal of Hepatology June 201; Volume 54, Issue 6, Pages 1123-1129
When looking at chronic hepatitis, evidence points to a relationship between caffeine consumption and improved liver tissue and lab results. Wanting to know more about this, a French team examined the impact of caffeine consumption on the liver in patients with chronic hepatitis C virus infection (HCV). There were 238 study subjects all with HCV (154 men and 84 women). Participants averaged about 408 mg of caffeine daily, mostly in the form of coffee (2 cups dally). Data were independently analyzed to remove other factors, such as alcohol and cigarette use.
The Bottom Line: Patients with HCV who drank the most coffee (3 or more cups a day) tended to have the least amount of inflammation of the liver cells. Researchers did not find a strong association between caffeine consumption and liver fibrosis progression, and suggest further studies. These findings suggest that caffeine or coffee may offer some protection to the liver.
Editorial Comment: There have been quite a few studies looking at the relationship between coffee consumption and HCV. For instance, research published in the June 2011 issue of Gastroenterology showed that HCV patients who drank three or more cups of coffee daily were three times more likely to respond to HCV treatment than patients who didn’t drink coffee.
Since coffee is made of more than a thousand constituents, it is impossible to state which component might be related to lower inflammation scores, or if the reason is related to the coffee at all. For instance, perhaps there is something else that coffee drinkers do or take that is related to improved liver inflammation. A double blind, randomized placebo-controlled study using caffeine would be an excellent tool for gaining more understanding about this.
By Sharon V Chapman
Drive through any city and it is practically impossible not to see at least one coffee shop. The reason of this goes beyond coffee and lies in espresso and coffee based drinks like cappuccinos and lattes. Consumers have come to realize that an espresso machine for their kitchen might be a better choice than a coffee maker. Before going out and buying an espresso maker from the nearest big box retailer, consumers should weigh whether or not it will be to their advantage.
A home espresso machine can be a money saving appliance if the owner is a heavy coffee drinker who prefers cappuccino or latte over a typical cup of coffee. The average price of a latte or cappuccino can be upwards of $5. This can become an expensive habit that owning an espresso machine can help to eliminate.
On the other hand, the coffee drinker who only rarely drinks cappuccino or latte may wind up spending money on an espresso maker that they rarely use which means they don’t get their money out of it. These coffee drinkers are probably better off simply stopping and getting their favorite drink when they have the urge.
Many people avoid purchasing an espresso maker because they are afraid it will be hard to use. That might have been true years ago before the designers made espresso machines for home use. Learning to pull a shot of espresso with the older machines is a complicated experience and not something many people would want to do every morning.
Today’s espresso machines are available in fully automatic models that require little more than adding water. The fully automatic models dose the coffee into the filter basket, brew the coffee and empty the basket all without any input from the coffee drinker. This eliminates the need for lengthy studying and reading manuals to make a cup of coffee.
One of the best reasons for owning an espresso machine is the convenience of having a coffee shop at home anytime the urge hits for an espresso or after dinner drink made with a coffee base. True coffee lovers will attest that not much can be worse than craving a steaming hot cappuccino or espresso and realizing that to get one means leaving home and driving to the nearest coffee shop. Having an espresso maker at home makes it easy to brew up an espresso anytime day or night.
An espresso machine is an excellent choice for coffee drinkers who like their espresso, cappuccino or latte drinks and don’t want to continue shelling out the big bucks necessary to have on every day. Today’s home espresso makers are simple to use, take up very little space and can be purchased relatively inexpensively. Coffee lovers should consider this when making decisions for the small appliances they want in their kitchen.
The Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research have been on a mission: they have been carrying out detailed investigations to try to work out what makes coffee as green as possible. We all want to save the planet and be environmentally conscious these days and so the results of the report are relevant to all coffee-drinkers.
What did these researchers investigate? They were rigorous – from reviewing capsule systems and coffee machines, together with investigations into filters and soluble coffee practices, they reached a conclusion in how to make the morning cup of coffee as environmentally friendly as possible.
And the results?
The most significant factor was the coffee bean itself – the choice of blend had most influence on how green the beverage was. Capsule systems have become popular recently and the research team discovered that the aluminium packaging was the most environmentally friendly form of packaging, provided of course it is recycled.
How else can we be especially environmentally savvy? Choose coffee with an ecological label was one recommendation and coffee machines such as the espresso maker and the cafetiere are also reasonable ways to produce coffee, provided that they do not make too much surplus coffee that is not drunk.
The researchers also looked into practices in the production and preparation of coffee that can be improved on to make sure that the coffee culture pleases Mother Earth as well as you and me.
Coffee has been linked to a reduced risk of dying from prostate cancer in a study of nearly 50,000 US men.
Those who drank six or more cups a day were found to be 20% less likely to develop any form of the disease – which is the most common cancer in men.
They were also 60% less likely to develop an aggressive form which can spread to other parts of the body.
But charities say the evidence, reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, is still unclear.
They do not recommend that men take up coffee drinking in the hope of preventing prostate cancer.
The study looked at about 48,000 men in the US who work as health professionals.
Every four years between 1986 and 2006, they were asked to report their average daily intake of coffee.
During this 20-year period, 5,035 of the men were diagnosed with prostate cancer, including 642 fatal cases.
No difference was seen between caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee, suggesting caffeine itself was not the cause.
But even relatively small amounts of coffee – one to three cups per day – were found to lower the risk of lethal prostate cancer by 30%.
The researchers think there may be unknown compounds in coffee that protect against the disease.
Lead researcher Dr Kathryn Wilson, from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, said: “At present we lack an understanding of risk factors that can be changed or controlled to lower the risk of lethal prostate cancer.
“If our findings are validated, coffee could represent one modifiable factor that may lower the risk of developing the most harmful form of prostate cancer.”
Commenting on the study, Dr Helen Rippon of The Prostate Cancer Charity, said other studies had not shown the link and the research evidence was still unclear.
She added: “Although this study is a welcome addition to our knowledge, it is far from definitive and we would not recommend men who are not already habitual coffee drinkers to become so in the hope of preventing prostate cancer.
* Previous studies have shown no clear link between coffee and prostate cancer risk
* Men who drank six or more cups of coffee per day had a slightly lower risk of any form of prostate cancer and a substantially lower risk of lethal prostate cancer compared with non-coffee drinkers, according to the researchers
* Both caff and decaff were associated with similar risks
“Heavy caffeine intake is associated with other health problems and men with benign prostate problems might well make urinary symptoms worse.”
Yinka Ebo, senior health information officer at Cancer Research UK, said: “There’s no need for men to start drinking gallons of coffee in an attempt to lower their prostate cancer risk.
“A number of other studies looking at coffee and prostate cancer have found that drinking coffee does not affect the risk of the disease, and this study only found a lower risk of advanced prostate cancer in men who drank more than six cups a day.
“We would need to see these results repeated in other large studies before we can be sure whether coffee consumption affects the risk of prostate cancer.”