Thursday, August 2, 2007

Coffee: A "Health Drink" or a "Health Hinderance?"

It's incredible the amount of conflicting evidence about coffee. No matter which way you turn, there's someone who touts coffee as a health drink, while another set of researchers finds that coffee is bad, bad, bad.

Personally, I enjoy drinking coffee, and in fact I am writing today's post from our local coffee shop. Most readers of our daily news on Sham vs.Wham are, howewver, very aware of their health and their bodily processes. I know when I drink coffee that everything gets "speeded up," and the effect on my blood pressure has been noted on numerous occasions by my doctor. And yet, I still drink it on occasion.

One example of the "good news" about coffee from today's medical wire:
Regular and high coffee drinking may reduce the risk of liver cancer by 55 per cent, says a new meta-analysis of observational studies. The study, published in the August issue of Hepatology, pooled data from six case-control and four cohort studies and found that an increase of one cup of coffee every day was associated with a 23 per cent reduction across all the studies. Moreover, the apparent favorable effect of coffee drinking was found both in studies from southern Europe, where coffee is widely consumed, and from Japan, where coffee consumption is less frequent, and in subjects with chronic liver diseases. The authors go on to say that liver cancer is the sixth most commonly diagnosed cancer in the world, and third most common cause of death from cancer.

These authors calculated that moderate coffee drinking was associated with a 30 per cent lower risk, while heavy coffee drinking was associated with a 55 per cent lower risk.
Coffee, one of the world's largest traded commodities produced in more than 60 countries and generating more than $70 billion in retail sales a year, continues to spawn research and interest, and has been linked to reduced risks of certain diseases, especially of the liver and diabetes.

Still, I know what it does for my blood pressure, and that certainly isn't good. In this case, the verdict of whether or not coffee is "good" is an entirely personal decision, and no matter which way you go on it, you'll find evidence to support your decision. (Read the excellent US News and World Report article on Coffee, which is linked to the headline of today's post.)


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