Studies indicate new health benefits for coffee

Issue Date: SCR – August 2011, Posted On: 7/11/2011 by Specialty Coffee Retailer

Studies indicate new health benefits for coffee

Two studies suggest that heavy coffee consumption may have certain newly discovered health benefits—at least in terms of avoiding disease.

Researchers at the University of South Florida experimented on mice that were bred to develop symptoms mimicking Alzheimer’s disease. They found that caffeinated coffee caused the mice to develop a growth factor that is depleted in Alzheimer’s patients, and that has been shown to improve memory in Alzheimer’s mice. The effect occurred with caffeinated drip coffee but not with either decaffeinated coffee or caffeine alone, leading the researchers to theorize that the caffeine interacted with some unknown other substance in the coffee to produce the anti-Alzheimer’s effect. The finding appeared in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Harvard researchers who looked at men’s coffee drinking habits over a 22-year period found that heavy consumers were less likely to develop deadly prostate cancer.

The Harvard study, reported in the online edition of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, involved almost 48,000 men who self-reported their coffee consumption every four years from 1986 to 2008. Subjects who drank six or more cups a day were 20 percent less to develop prostate cancer, and 60 percent less to develop lethal prostate cancer. Men who drank one to three cups a day were 30 percent less likely to develop lethal prostate cancer.

“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,” said lead author Kathryn Wilson, a research fellow in epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Coffee has already been associated with various health benefits including a lower risk of Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes, gallstone disease, liver cancer and cirrhosis.

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