for your health
Irene Middleman Thomas is a Colorado-based writer for many publications.
A cup a day
New studies find
a healthful side to coffee
By Irene Middleman Thomas
The la Tes T coffee buzz doesn’t come
from caffeine—it comes from new developments about coffee. It turns out that coffee
might actually have healthful benefits.
Disease buster, life extender?
Most recently, Wilson’s harvard group
and colleagues at McGill university’s research
facility in Montreal evaluated data from
nearly 50,000 participants. The independent
study found that men with a high daily intake
of regular or decaffeinated coffee, defined as
six or more cups a day, had an up to 60 per
cent lower risk of advanced and lethal pros-
Wilson stresses that this is the first study
of the relationship between coffee and pros-
tate cancer. More research is needed to con-
firm the findings, she says, but the results so
far are very encouraging.
coffee is thought to contain chemicals
that lower blood sugar. extensive research has
been done on the relationship between coffee and Type 2 diabetes. In December 2009,
a report from the university of sydney in
australia stated that drinking four cups of
coffee per day reduced the risk of developing
diabetes by 25 to 35 per cent.
More than 60 per cent of adults in canada
drink coffee, according to the Toronto-based coffee association of canada. until
recently, however, few of us pondered whether
it was negative or positive for our health.
but coffee has been on the minds of
researchers for some time. In 1998, the Institute of coffee studies, the first u.s. centre
devoted to basic research on coffee, opened
at Vanderbilt university in Nashville. and
recently released research conducted by several teams of harvard Medical school doctors
and nutritionists, as well as others, generated
a barrage of media and public interest by stating that coffee is good for our health.
The Costco Connection
Members will find a variety of whole-bean
and ground coffees (regular and decaf) at
their local Costco warehouses.
“The research that has been emerging
over the past few years shows that, for the
general population, coffee drinking doesn’t
have any serious detrimental health effects,
and, in fact, causes an inverse association
with the risk of Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascu-
lar disease, liver cancer and liver cirrhosis,”
says Rob van Dam, assistant professor in the
departments of nutrition and epidemiology at
the harvard school of Public health.
“caffeine can’t be the answer, because you
see the same sort of overall response from
diabetes with decaf as with caffeinated coffee,”
says the paper’s senior author, Mark Woodward,
a professor at Mount sinai Medical center
in New York.
“This has become a main message,” notes
Kathryn Wilson, a post-doctoral fellow and
lead researcher at the harvard school of
Public health and channing laboratory.
“When people find out that they are at risk for
developing disease, coffee can be one pleasure
from which they don’t need to deprive them-
selves, and then they can focus on other life-
In some people, coffee causes the occasional
missed or extra heartbeat, increased blood
pressure or a speed-up in the heart’s rhythm.
espresso and other unfiltered coffee can
slightly increase the level of harmful low-den-
sity lipoprotein (lDl), or “bad,” cholesterol.
It’s important to check with your physician, who can evaluate if you are in an at-risk category.
although regular coffee drinking isn’t
harmful for most people, that might not hold
true for pregnant women. Research has linked
miscarriage to caffeine consumption of 200
milligrams or more per day. a typical cup of
coffee has 100 to 150 milligrams.
It is also possible to be addicted to caffeine, according to university of florida professor and director of toxicology bruce
Goldberger. “If you consume a lot of caffeine,
then you don’t, you start to crave it,” he says.
In recent years, coffee has been shown to
be safe for heart-attack survivors, and it may
ward off cardiovascular disease, according to
a 2008 study by epidemiologists at the
autonomous university of Madrid. scientists
think antioxidants in coffee may reduce
inflammation and protect blood vessel walls.
and java may not only make life more
pleasurable, it may even extend it. Recent
studies suggest that drinking coffee decreases
the risk of premature death, especially in
women. a large joint investigation by researchers in spain and at harvard Medical school—
funded by The National Institutes of health
and the american heart association—found
women who drank at least five to seven cups
a week had a death rate 26 per cent lower than
for non-consumers. C