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Could Drinking Coffee Benefit You?

  • July 18, 2012
  • RPh on the Go

Yet Another Benefit for Coffee Drinkers?

A new study published in the American Association for Cancer Research journal Cancer Research suggests that drinking more coffee could lower the risk of developing basal cell carcinoma, the most common type of skin cancer.

This isn’t the first health benefit linked to caffeinated coffee. Other studies link benefits from your morning cup of joe to type 2 diabetes (for people at risk for diabetes – not diabetics), endometrial and prostate cancers, Parkinson’s disease and overall longer lives. Not bad for something many of us can’t function properly without anyway. Tell the truth; didn’t you always suspect that something so craveable and satisfying had to be bad for you in some way?

Researchers are cautiously optimistic about the study results. The study was an analysis of data from two studies that ran for more than 20 years, the Nurse’s Health Study, which focused on women’s health issues, and the Health Professional’s Follow-up Study, which focused on men’s health. In total, the records of 112,897 study participants were examined.

The results strongly suggested that it’s the caffeine that makes the difference. Participants who regularly indulged in other sources of caffeine – tea, cola, and chocolate – enjoyed the same benefits, while participants who avoided caffeine did not.

Jiali Han, Ph.D., associate professor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School in Boston and Harvard School of Public Health, cautions that more time is needed to follow the participants and that the numbers may vary over the course of another decade. But the results do correlate with tests performed on mice that show caffeine has the demonstrable effect of blocking the formation of skin tumors.

How much is too much?

The benefits of coffee are adding up, but the words of Oscar Wilde still ring true. “Everything in moderation.” (We can handily ignore the last part of the quote “including moderation,” since old Oscar was a pretty funny guy.) People react differently to caffeine. Some will react adversely to even small amounts and wind up with jitters, insomnia, or other detrimental effects. The Mayo Clinic recommends no more than 200-300 mg per day, or 2 to 4 cups. More than that and you might wind up with a host of problems, including irritability, nervousness, upset stomach, rapid heartbeat, and muscle tremors.

What’s your prediction? Will caffeine prove to be the miracle drug we’ve all been waiting for? And more importantly – should we invest in Starbucks?

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