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Coffee gets health honour, lowers prostate cancer risk

Coffee gets good Press these days, with numerous studies over many recent years finding it to have a wide range of health benefits.

LE CONNOISSEUR

Coffee has been linked to reducing the risk of diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, colon cancer, prostate cancer and dental cavities.

Better still, for those who really love a cup of coffee, the more you drink, it seems, the better! In recent decades, over 19 000 studies have examined coffee’s impact on health. Overall, they have found coffee to be far more healthful than harmful.

For most of us, very little bad comes from drinking it, but a lot of good.

Harvard researchers analysed data on a massive 126 000 people for 18 years. They found that those who drink one to three cups of (caffeinated) coffee daily reduced their risk of diabetes by up to 9%, while those drinking six cups or more daily slashed their risk by 54% in the case of men and 30% for women.

A huge National Institute of Health study in the United States followed 400 000 men and women aged 50 to 71 for 13 years, during which 13% died, and found that both regular and decaf coffee were associated with a lower risk of dying, and that drinking coffee, even several cups daily, is unlikely to harm your health and may lower your risk of dying from diabetes and heart disease.

Overall, coffee drinkers were less likely to die during the study, and the more coffee they drank, the lower their mortality risk.

Compared with those drinking no coffee, men and women who drank six or more cups a day were 10% and 15% less likely to die from any cause, including heart disease, lung disease, pneumonia, stroke, diabetes, infections, and even injuries and accidents.

Even one cup per day was associated with a 6% lower risk of dying among men and 5% among women.

Researchers took into account diet and exercise regimens, smoking, alcohol consumption, body mass index and marital status, and still found coffee drinking likely to improve health. Coffee contains 1 000 compounds, many of which are health-promoting antioxidants, and in this study, both regular and decaf were associated with a lower risk of dying.

Various studies have found that people who drink coffee regularly are up to 80% less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease, and the more drunk, the lower the risk.

At least two cups daily can also translate to a 25% reduced risk of colon cancer, an 80% drop in liver cirrhosis risk and almost a 50% lowered risk of gallstones.

Coffee even offsets some of the damage caused by other vices, some research indicates. Smokers and heavy drinkers appear to suffer less heart disease and liver damage when they regularly consume large amounts of coffee.

There’s even some evidence that coffee may help manage asthma and control attacks when medication is unavailable, stop a headache, boost mood and prevent cavities.

Some benefits are attributable to the caffeine content, some to the high levels of antioxidants in coffee beans, some of which become especially potent during roasting, some are yet to be fully understood.

It’s the caffeine that lowers Parkinson’s risk and helps with asthma and headaches and caffeine that can enhance athletic endurance and performance, by stimulating the brain and nervous system.

It may even have a direct beneficial effect on the performance of the muscles themselves. So if you’re a keen runner and already fit, drink coffee, and you will likely run faster, last longer and be stronger. Even one cup offers some benefit, two mugs, even better! The harder you exercise, the more benefit you get from coffee.

What about the children? A study in Brazil found that children who drink coffee with milk each day are less likely to have depression than other children, and no studies have shown coffee in reasonable amounts to be harmful to children.

So — drink up and enjoy your coffee!

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