Morning Coiffee Fix,

Dangers and Benefits of The Cup Of “o’Joe”

By —— Bio and Archives--February 12, 2008

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What’s so important about the year 1657? It was the year that coffee was first imported into London, England from the Middle East. This glowing ad stated “A very wholesome and physical drink that helpeth indigestion, quickeneth the spirits, maketh the heart lightsom, is good against eye sores, coughs, head-ach, gout and the King’s evil”.


351 years later we don’t have to worry about the King’s evil. But the evil gyrations of the stock market may cause many to reach for several extra cups of coffee. So how much harm or good is there in our cup of “o’Joe”?

Recently Tufts University in Boston reported the findings of a panel of experts who discussed this matter at an Experimental Biology meeting held in Washington, D.C.

First, the good news. A major finding is the beneficial effect of coffee on type 2 diabetes, the kind primarily due to obesity. Over 20 studies show that coffee helps to ward off this disease. Coffee contains chlorogenic acid, an antioxidant that decreases absorption of glucose from the bowel. A cup of instant coffee also contains 59 micrograms of the trace element, boron,  that reduces the amount of insulin required to maintain normal blood sugar levels.

There’s been concern that coffee may have an adverse effect on cardiovascular health. But researchers followed 20,000 coffee-loving Finns for 10 years and concluded that coffee and non-coffee drinkers shared the same risk of coronary attack or dying from heart disease.

Another Norwegian study reported that older women drinking one to three cups of coffee daily were 24 percent less likely to die of cardiovascular disease than non-drinkers.

Coffee’s effect on blood pressure has been debated for years due to its initial and temporary increase in blood pressure. But the jury is still out. A Finnish study of 27,710 healthy men and women showed that after 13 years there was a 14 percent greater risk of hypertension. A Harvard study of 45, 000 people, however, could not find a shred of evidence that coffee caused hypertension.

But if you enjoy your morning coffee at Tim Horton’s or Starbucks try jogging there. A report from Rutgers University claims that coffee, along with jogging, provided a greater protective effect for cardiovascular disease than each one separately.

Several other medical conditions are helped by a cup of java. A study of 45,869 men for 12 years showed that those using six or more cups daily had a 40 percent decreased risk of developing gout. And Finns who drank 10 or more cups daily were 84 percent less likely to develop Parkinson’s Disease. 

What does a cup of coffee do to our brain? We all know that coffee sends a great wake-up call to the brain. But in addition, a European study showed that those drinking three cups of coffee daily helped to boost long-term memory.

But there’s also a cup of caution when pouring yourself a cup of “o’joe”. For years a suspicion lingered that coffee was associated with certain types of cancer. And the news is a combination of good and bad.

A report from the Harvard School of Public Health links coffee to pancreatic cancer. Other studies show an increase in leukemia, stomach and bladder malignancies.

On the other hand, Dr. Lenore Arab of the University of California, after an extensive review of 400 studies, showed that coffee was protective against colon, rectal and liver cancer.

But here’s the big negative. Only 35 percent of people drink coffee black. And the recent specialty-coffee trend has added a huge number of calories to a cup of java. So choose the additions carefully. If you must add something use skim or low fat milk. Or choose artificial sweeteners, cinnamon and spices that don’t add calories or fat. Or order a Starbuck’s 16 ounce Caffe Americano that contains just 16 calories. The same size White Chocolate Mocha with whole milk packs 500 calories!

It’s also prudent for pregnant women to limit intake of coffee. Recent studies show that excessive amounts of coffee increase the risk of miscarriage.

So enjoy your cup of java in moderation. Good sense dictates that not many evils lurk in coffee if it’s not overdone!


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Dr. Gifford Jones -- Bio and Archives | Comments

W. Gifford-Jones M.D is the pen name of Dr. Ken Walker graduate of Harvard. Dr. Walker’s website is: Docgiff.com

My book, “90 + How I Got There” can be obtained by sending $19.95 to:
Giff Holdings, 525 Balliol St, Unit # 6,Toronto, Ontario, M4S 1E1


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