Coffee and Your Health

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You would be hard pressed to find another beverage besides coffee whose health benefits or concerns are more controversial. It seems with each passing year, coffee is hailed as either medicine or poison, but this year it seems the findings have been positive. Let's take a look at a few recent conclusions.

Coffee May Prevent and Treat Alzheimer's

In a study on mice, researchers gave them the equivalent of 3-5 cups strong coffee and found that after two months the subjects had a greatly improved memory. It may be because the caffeine reduces inflammation in the brain, which would improve memory, or because they had 50% less amyloid beta protein in their brains. Testing the memory of a mouse, what an interesting job. As for studies on humans, lead researcher on the project, Miia Kivipelto, a professor at the University of Kuopio in Finland and at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, said, "Middle-aged people who drank between three and five cups of coffee a day lowered their risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer's disease by between 60 and 65 percent later in life." She also said it remained unclear exactly how moderate coffee drinking helped delay or avoid the onset of dementia, but pointed out that coffee contains strong antioxidants, which are known to counter Alzheimer's.

Coffee Cups
Coffee Cups

Coffee May Help Diabetics

Previous studies have affirmed that a high consumption of coffee may lower the risk for type 2 diabetes, and now another study on 15 overweight men was performed, focusing on two specific compounds found in coffee, chlorogenic acid and trigonelline. The researchers examined the effects on both glucose and insulin concentrations and found a significant reduction in glucose and insulin 15 minutes after the oral glucose tolerance test, a two-hour procedure commonly used to diagnose diabetes. They believe that these specific compounds contribute to the overall beneficial effect of coffee on the development of type 2 diabetes.

Caffeine Used to Fight Skin Cancer

Scientists now believe that both drinking caffeine and using sunscreens or after-sun creams containing caffeine may improve sun damaged skin and reduce the risk of developing non-melanoma skin cancer. In a 2007 study it was shown that drinking caffeinated coffee caused a reduction in the risk of developing non-melanoma skin cancer at a rate of 5% for each cup consumed per day. Now researchers have shown that caffeine applied topically to the skin effectively protected skin cells after they were exposed to UV radiation. The reasoning behind it is believed to be that caffeine causes apoptosis, the programmed death of pre-cancerous cells. In one study, after exposing hairless mice to UV radiation, they found that topical applications of caffeine to the mice decreased the number of nonmalignant skin tumors by 44% and malignant skin tumors 72%. It increased apoptosis of nonmalignant skin tumors by 87% and squamous cell carcinomas 92%, and there was no effect on the non-tumor areas of the skin. This should be good news for those of us living in Arizona!

Coffee Helps Hepatitis C Patients

In an observation study it was found that patients with a hepatitis C virus infection who drank three cups or more of coffee per day appear to be less likely to suffer from progression of liver damage caused by the disease. In the study, those who drank 3 or more cups of coffee per day had livers that were much healthier than the other participants. At the 13-month follow-up, outcome rates continued to decrease more for those who consumed three or more cups per day than those who drank little or no coffee, leading researchers to claim that "coffee consumption may slow the progression of fibrotic liver disease" (the result of the liver forming excessive fibrous connective tissue).

References

Coffee may prevent, treat Alzheimer's - CBS News story on Health Central.

Drinking coffee reduces risk of Alzheimer's: study - Google news.

Decaf Coffee Could be Boon to Diabetics - From Coffee Chat News.

Dermatologists Call Caffeine in Coffee Positive Element to Fight Skin Cancer - From Coffee Chat News.

Topical applications of caffeine or (−)-epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) inhibit carcinogenesis and selectively increase apoptosis in UVB-induced skin tumors in mice - Abstract

Increased Coffee Consumption May Slow Damage from Hepatitis C - From Coffee Chat News.

Published: July 2009, Last Modified: October 2011