There are many advantages to being one of the 54 percent of Americans over 18 who drink coffee everyday. Coffee can be pretty amazing for your brain, your skin and your body. Read on to discover reasons you should wake up and smell the coffee…
Coffee is number one source of antioxidants
WASHINGTON, Aug. 28 — Coffee provides more than just a morning jolt; that steaming cup of java is also the number one source of antioxidants in the U.S. diet, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Scranton (Pa.). Their study was described today at the 230th national meeting of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society.
“Americans get more of their antioxidants from coffee than any other dietary source. Nothing else comes close,” says study leader Joe Vinson, Ph.D., a chemistry professor at the university. Although fruits and vegetables are generally promoted as good sources of antioxidants, the new finding is surprising because it represents the first time that coffee has been shown to be the primary source from which most Americans get their antioxidants, Vinson says. Both caffeinated and decaf versions appear to provide similar antioxidant levels, he adds.
He cautions that high antioxidant levels in foods and beverages don’t necessarily translate into levels found in the body. The potential health benefits of these antioxidants ultimately depends on how they are absorbed and utilized in the body, a process that is still poorly understood, says Vinson, whose study was primarily funded by the American Cocoa Research Institute.
The news follows a growing number of reports touting the potential health benefits of drinking coffee. It also comes at an appropriate time: Coffee consumption is on the rise in the United States and over half of Americans drink it everyday, according to the National Coffee Association.
Antioxidants in general have been linked to a number of potential health benefits, including protection against heart disease and cancer. For the current study, Vinson and his associates analyzed the antioxidant content of more than 100 different food items, including vegetables, fruits, nuts, spices, oils and common beverages. The data was compared to an existing U.S. Department of Agriculture database on the contribution of each type of food item to the average estimated U.S. per capita consumption.
Coffee came out on top, on the combined basis of both antioxidants per serving size and frequency of consumption, Vinson says. Java easily outranked such popular antioxidant sources as tea, milk, chocolate and cranberries, he says. Of all the foods and beverages studied, dates actually have the most antioxidants of all based solely on serving size, according to Vinson. But since dates are not consumed at anywhere near the level of coffee, the blue ribbon goes to our favorite morning pick-me-up as the number one source of antioxidants, he says.
Besides keeping you alert and awake, coffee has been linked to an increasing number of potential health benefits, including protection against liver and colon cancer, type 2 diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease, according to some recently published studies. But there’s also a downside: Java can make you jittery and cause stomach pains, while some studies have tied it to elevated blood pressure and heart rates. More research is needed, particularly human studies, to firmly establish its health benefits, Vinson says.
While the findings would seem to encourage people to go out and drink more coffee, Vinson emphasizes moderation. “One to two cups a day appear to be beneficial,” he says. If you don’t like coffee, consider drinking black tea, which is the second most consumed antioxidant source in the U.S. diet, Vinson says. Bananas, dry beans and corn placed third, fourth and fifth, respectively.
But don’t forget about fresh fruits and veggies, the researcher cautions. “Unfortunately, consumers are still not eating enough fruits and vegetables, which are better for you from an overall nutritional point of view due to their higher content of vitamins, minerals and fiber,” Vinson says. Dates, cranberries and red grapes are among the top fruits for antioxidants on the basis of concentration (antioxidants per serving size), he says.
The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization, chartered by the U.S. Congress, with a multidisciplinary membership of more than 158,000 chemists and chemical engineers. It publishes numerous scientific journals and databases, convenes major research conferences and provides educational, science policy and career programs in chemistry. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.
The following chart shows the top ten sources of antioxidants in the U.S. diet.
A Cup of Joe May Help Some Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms
MINNEAPOLIS – While drinking caffeine each day does not appear to help improve sleepiness among people with Parkinson’s disease, it may have a benefit in controlling movement, according to new research published in the August 1, 2012, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of theAmerican Academy of Neurology. “Studies have shown that people who use caffeine are less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease, but this is one of the first studies in humans to show that caffeine can help with movement symptoms for people who already have the disease,” said study author Ronald Postuma, MD, MSc, with McGill University in Montreal and the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Center. Postuma is also a member of the American Academy of Neurology. For the study, 61 people with Parkinson’s disease who showed symptoms of daytime sleepiness and some motor symptoms were given either a placebo pill or a pill with 100 milligrams of caffeine two times a day for three weeks, then 200 milligrams twice a day for three weeks, which was the equivalent of between two and four cups of coffee per day. After six weeks, the half that took the caffeine supplements averaged a five-point improvement in Parkinson’s severity ratings compared to those who didn’t consume caffeine. “This is a modest improvement, but may be enough to provide benefit to patients. On the other hand, it may not be sufficient to explain the relationship between caffeine non-use and Parkinson’s, since studies of the progression of Parkinson’s symptoms early in the disease suggest that a five-point reduction would delay diagnosis by only six months,” said Postuma. The caffeine group also averaged a three-point improvement in the speed of movement and amount of stiffness compared to the placebo group. Caffeine did not appear to help improve daytime sleepiness and there were no changes in quality of life, depression or sleep quality in study participants. “The study is especially interesting since caffeine seems to block a malfunctioning brain signal in Parkinson’s disease and is so safe and inexpensive,” said Michael Schwarzschild, MD, PhD, of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, who wrote an accompanying editorial. “Although the results do not suggest that caffeine should be used as a treatment in Parkinson’s disease, they can be taken into consideration when people with Parkinson’s are discussing their caffeine use with their neurologist.” Schwarzschild is also a member of the American Academy of Neurology. The study authors noted that the length of the study was short and that the effects of caffeine may lessen over time. The study was supported by the Canadian Institute of Health Research and the Webster Foundation. To learn more about Parkinson’s disease, visit http://www.aan.com/patients.
The American Academy of Neurology, an association of more than 25,000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to promoting the highest quality patient-centered neurologic care. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, migraine, multiple sclerosis, brain injury, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy. For more information about the American Academy of Neurology, visit http://www.aan.com or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube.
Coffee drinking associated with lower risk for alcohol-related liver disease
Drinking coffee may be related to a reduced risk of developing the liver disease alcoholic cirrhosis, according to a report in the June 12 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.
Cirrhosis progressively destroys healthy liver tissue and replaces it with scar tissue. Viruses such as hepatitis C can cause cirrhosis, but long-term, heavy alcohol use is the most common cause of the disease in developed countries, according to background information in the article. Most alcohol drinkers, however, never develop cirrhosis; other factors that may play a role include genetics, diet and nutrition, smoking and the interaction of alcohol with other toxins that damage the liver.
Arthur L. Klatsky, M.D., and colleagues at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, Oakland, Calif., analyzed data from 125,580 individuals (55,247 men and 70,333 women) who did not report liver disease when they had baseline examinations, between 1978 and 1985. Participants filled out a questionnaire to provide information about how much alcohol, coffee and tea they drank per day during the past year. Some of the individuals also had their blood tested for levels of certain liver enzymes; the enzymes are released into the bloodstream when the liver is diseased or damaged.
By the end of 2001, 330 participants had been diagnosed with cirrhosis, including 199 with alcoholic cirrhosis. For each cup of coffee they drank per day, participants were 22 percent less likely to develop alcoholic cirrhosis. Drinking coffee was also associated with a slight reduction in risk for other types of cirrhosis. Among those who had their blood drawn, liver enzyme levels were higher among individuals who drank more alcohol, indicating liver disease or damage; however, those who drank both alcohol and coffee had lower levels than those who drank alcohol but did not drink coffee, with the strongest link among the heaviest drinkers.
Tea drinking was not related to reduced risk in the study, suggesting that it is not caffeine that is responsible for the relationship between coffee and reduced cirrhosis risk. “Previous reports are disparate with respect to whether the apparently protective coffee ingredient is caffeine; in our opinion this issue is quite unresolved,” the authors write.
The findings do not suggest that physicians prescribe coffee to prevent alcoholic cirrhosis, the authors continue. “Even if coffee is protective, the primary approach to reduction of alcoholic cirrhosis is avoidance or cessation of heavy alcohol drinking,” they conclude. “Assuming causality, the data do suggest that coffee intake may partly explain the variability of cirrhosis risk in alcohol consumers. Basic research about hepatic coffee-ethanol interactions is warranted, but we should keep in mind that coffee might represent only one of a number of potential cirrhosis risk modulators.”
(Arch Intern Med. 2006;166:1190-1195. Available pre-embargo to the media at www.jamamedia.org.)
Increased Caffeine Intake Is Associated with Reduced Risk of Basal Cell Carcinoma of the Skin
Authors’ Affiliations: 1Department of Dermatology, 2Channing Laboratory, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School; 3Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts; and 4Department of Epidemiology, Tianjin Medical University Cancer Institute and Hospital, Tianjin, China
- Corresponding Author:
Jiali Han, Channing Laboratory, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, 181 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115. Phone: 617-525-2098; Fax: 617-525-2008; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Studies in animals suggest that caffeine administration helps prevent squamous cell skin cancer development, but there have been limited epidemiologic studies on the association between caffeine consumption and skin cancer risk. Using data from the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, we prospectively examined risks of basal cell carcinoma (BCC, 22,786 cases), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC, 1,953 cases), and melanoma (741 cases) in relation to caffeine intake. Cox proportional hazard models were used to calculate relative risks (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI). The amount of caffeine intake from all dietary sources was inversely associated with BCC risk. Compared with the lowest quintile, the highest quintile had the lowest risk (RR, 0.82 in women; 95% CI:,0.77–0.86 and RR, 0.87 in men; 95% CI, 0.81–0.94; Ptrend < 0.0001 in both). A significant inverse association was also found between caffeinated coffee consumption and BCC risk. Compared with individuals who consumed caffeinated coffee less than 1 cup per month, women who consumed more than 3 cups/d had the lowest risk (RR, 0.79; 95% CI, 0.74–0.85; Ptrend < 0.0001) and the RR for men was 0.90 (95% CI, 0.80–1.01; Ptrend = 0.003). Caffeine from other dietary sources (tea, cola, and chocolate) was also inversely associated with BCC risk. Decaffeinated coffee consumption was not associated with a similar decrease in BCC risk. In contrast, caffeine intake was not found to be inversely associated with risks of SCC or melanoma. Our findings argue that caffeine intake in men and women is inversely associated with risk of BCC. Cancer Res; 72(13); 3282–9. ©2012 AACR.
Why coffee drinking reduces the risk of Type 2 diabetes
“Coffee Components Inhibit Amyloid Formation of Human Islet Amyloid Polypeptide in Vitro: Possible Link between Coffee Consumption and Diabetes Mellitus”
Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry
Why do heavy coffee drinkers have a lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, a disease on the increase around the world that can lead to serious health problems? Scientists are offering a new solution to that long-standing mystery in a report in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry.
Ling Zheng, Kun Huang and colleagues explain that previous studies show that coffee drinkers are at a lower risk for developing Type 2 diabetes, which accounts for 90-95 percent of diabetes cases in the world. Those studies show that people who drink four or more cups of coffee daily have a 50 percent lower risk of Type 2 diabetes. And every additional cup of coffee brings another decrease in risk of almost 7 percent. Scientists have implicated the misfolding of a substance called human islet amyloid polypeptide (hIAPP) in causing Type 2 diabetes, and some are seeking ways to block that process. Zheng and Huang decided to see if coffee’s beneficial effects might be due to substances that block hIAPP.
Indeed, they identified two categories of compounds in coffee that significantly inhibited hIAPP. They suggest that this effect explains why coffee drinkers show a lower risk for developing diabetes. “A beneficial effect may thus be expected for a regular coffee drinker,” the researchers conclude.
High Blood Caffeine Levels in Older Adults Linked to Avoidance of Alzheimer’s Disease
Tampa, FL (June 4, 2012) – Those cups of coffee that you drink every day to keep alert appear to have an extra perk – especially if you’re an older adult. A recent study monitoring the memory and thinking processes of people older than 65 found that all those with higher blood caffeine levels avoided the onset of Alzheimer’s disease in the two-to-four years of study follow-up. Moreover, coffee appeared to be the major or only source of caffeine for these individuals.
Researchers from the University of South Florida (www.usf.edu) and the University of Miami (www.miami.edu) say the case control study provides the first direct evidence that caffeine/coffee intake is associated with a reduced risk of dementia or delayed onset. Their findings will appear in the online version of an article to be published June 5 in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, published by IOS Press (http://health.usf.edu/nocms/publicaffairs/now/pdfs/JAD111781.pdf). The collaborative study involved 124 people, ages 65 to 88, in Tampa and Miami.
“These intriguing results suggest that older adults with mild memory impairment who drink moderate levels of coffee — about 3 cups a day — will not convert to Alzheimer’s disease — or at least will experience a substantial delay before converting to Alzheimer’s,” said study lead author Dr. Chuanhai Cao, a neuroscientist at the USF College of Pharmacy and the USF Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute. “The results from this study, along with our earlier studies in Alzheimer’s mice, are very consistent in indicating that moderate daily caffeine/coffee intake throughout adulthood should appreciably protect against Alzheimer’s disease later in life.”
The study shows this protection probably occurs even in older people with early signs of the disease, called mild cognitive impairment, or MCI. Patients with MCI already experience some short-term memory loss and initial Alzheimer’s pathology in their brains. Each year, about 15 percent of MCI patients progress to full-blown Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers focused on study participants with MCI, because many were destined to develop Alzheimer’s within a few years.
Blood caffeine levels at the study’s onset were substantially lower (51 percent less) in participants diagnosed with MCI who progressed to dementia during the two-to-four year follow-up than in those whose mild cognitive impairment remained stable over the same period.
No one with MCI who later developed Alzheimer’s had initial blood caffeine levels above a critical level of 1200 ng/ml – equivalent to drinking several cups of coffee a few hours before the blood sample was drawn. In contrast, many with stable MCI had blood caffeine levels higher than this critical level.
“We found that 100 percent of the MCI patients with plasma caffeine levels above the critical level experienced no conversion to Alzheimer’s disease during the two-to-four year follow-up period,” said study co-author Dr. Gary Arendash.
The researchers believe higher blood caffeine levels indicate habitually higher caffeine intake, most probably through coffee. Caffeinated coffee appeared to be the main, if not exclusive, source of caffeine in the memory-protected MCI patients, because they had the same profile of blood immune markers as Alzheimer’s mice given caffeinated coffee. Alzheimer’s mice given caffeine alone or decaffeinated coffee had a very different immune marker profile.
Since 2006, USF’s Dr. Cao and Dr. Arendash have published several studies investigating the effects of caffeine/coffee administered to Alzheimer’s mice. Most recently, they reported that caffeine interacts with a yet unidentified component of coffee to boost blood levels of a critical growth factor that seems to fight off the Alzheimer’s disease process.
“We are not saying that moderate coffee consumption will completely protect people from Alzheimer’s disease,” Dr. Cao cautioned. “However, we firmly believe that moderate coffee consumption can appreciably reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s or delay its onset.”
Alzheimer’s pathology is a process in which plaques and tangles accumulate in the brain, killing nerve cells, destroying neural connections, and ultimately leading to progressive and irreversible memory
loss. Since the neurodegenerative disease starts one or two decades before cognitive decline becomes apparent, the study authors point out, any intervention to cut the risk of Alzheimer’s should ideally begin that far in advance of symptoms.
“Moderate daily consumption of caffeinated coffee appears to be the best dietary option for long-term protection against Alzheimer’s memory loss,” Dr. Arendash said. “Coffee is inexpensive, readily
available, easily gets into the brain, and has few side-effects for most of us. Moreover, our studies show that caffeine and coffee appear to directly attack the Alzheimer’s disease process.”
In addition to Alzheimer’s disease, moderate caffeine/coffee intake appears to reduce the risk of several other diseases of aging, including Parkinson’s disease, stroke, Type II diabetes, and breast cancer. However, supporting studies for these benefits have all been observational (uncontrolled), and controlled clinical trials are needed to definitively demonstrate therapeutic value.
A study tracking the health and coffee consumption of more than 400,000 older adults for 13 years, and published earlier this year in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that coffee drinkers reduced their risk of dying from heart disease, lung disease, pneumonia, stroke, diabetes, infections, and even injuries and accidents.
With new Alzheimer’s diagnostic guidelines encompassing the full continuum of the disease, approximately 10 million Americans now fall within one of three developmental stages of Alzheimer’s disease — Alzheimer’s disease brain pathology only, MCI, or diagnosed Alzheimer’s disease. That number is expected to climb even higher as the baby-boomer generation continues to enter older age, unless an effective and proven preventive measure is identified.
“If we could conduct a large cohort study to look into the mechanisms of how and why coffee and caffeine can delay or prevent Alzheimer’s disease, it might result in billions of dollars in savings each year in addition to improved quality of life,” Dr. Cao said.
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