Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Coffee Guards Against Prostate Cancer?

More details here. The study is unpublished so is difficult to evaluate but it appears that only aggressive cancers are affected. The finding is of course epidemiological so the causal path is unknown -- something the researchers admit. A next step might be to look at what characterizes people who need a lot of artificial stimulation. A low metabolic rate? A low metabolic rate could quite conceivably lead to slower cancer development. In which case it is the metabolic rate, not the coffee, producing the effect

Men who are java junkies could be protecting themselves against the most deadly forms of prostate cancer. A study from Harvard Medical School found that men who drank the most coffee slashed their risk of developing the fastest growing and most difficult to treat prostate cancers by more than half when compared to men who drank no coffee.

This is the first study to associate coffee with a lower risk of prostate cancer. Researchers examined the overall risk as well as the risk of localized, advanced and lethal disease. No previous studies looked at coffee and its relationship to the outcomes of various prostate cancers. "We specifically looked at different types of prostate cancer, such as advanced vs. localized cancers or high-grade vs. low-grade cancers," Kathryn M. Wilson, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School, said in a statement.

Men who drank the most coffee—six or more cups daily—reduced their risk by 60 percent. The risk was 25 percent lower for men who drank four or five cups, and 20 percent lower for those men who consumed one to three cups daily.

The researchers, who studied nearly 50,000 men over a 20-year period, believe that ingredients other than caffeine provide the benefit since men who drank decaffeinated coffee enjoyed the same reduction in risk. The advantage, they theorize, probably comes from the many antioxidants and minerals found in coffee.

"This research does provide a clue that coffee drinking might reduce the likelihood of a man being diagnosed with a more advanced prostate cancer, although there is still more research to do to confirm this and to uncover which component of coffee could be responsible," Helen Rippon of the U.K.'s Prostate Cancer Charity, told the Daily Mail. "Coffee has effects on insulin and glucose metabolism as well as sex hormone levels, all of which play a role in prostate cancer," the Harvard researchers told a conference of the American Association for Cancer Research.

"Very few lifestyle factors have been consistently associated with prostate cancer risk, especially with risk of aggressive disease, so it would be exciting if this association is confirmed in other studies."


Cigarette pack health warnings 'could encourage people to keep smoking'

According to a study, smokers who are continunally confronted with warnings that cigarettes kill actually develop coping mechanisms to justify continuing their habit. Comparatively, if smokers are shown warnings suggesting the habit could make them unattractive, they are more likely to give up. Teenagers who took up the habit to impress or fit in with their peers were more likely to be influenced by warnings about their appearance, the study found.

"In general, when smokers are faced with death-related anti-smoking messages on cigarette packs, they produce active coping attempts as reflected in their willingness to continue the risky smoking behaviour," the study said. "To succeed with anti-smoking messages on cigarette packs one has to take into account that considering their death may make people smoke."

The study from the United States, Switzerland and Germany, led by Jochim Hansen of New York University and the University of Basel, asked 39 psychology students who said they were smokers, aged between 17 -41. Participants filled in a questionnaire determining how much their smoking was based on self-esteem, before being shown cigarette packets with different warnings on them. Half of them read warnings such as "Smoking leads to deadly lung cancer", while the other half had warnings about attractiveness. After a 15-minute delay the students were asked more questions about their smoking behaviour and if they intended to quit.

The study, published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, found that cigarette packets with death-related warnings were not effective and even caused more positive smoking attitudes. "On the other hand, warning messages that were unrelated to death effectively reduced smoking attitudes the more recipients based their self-esteem on smoking.

"This finding can be explained by the fact that warnings such as 'Smoking brings you and the people around you severe damage' and 'Smoking makes you unattractive' may be particularly threatening to people who believe the opposite, namely that smoking allows them to feel valued by others or to boost their positive self-image."

A Department of Health spokesman said: “Health warnings on tobacco packaging have played an important role in helping smokers understand the risks of tobacco use and where to get help to quit. Research from around the world has shown that different people react to different types of messages to motivate them to attempt to quit. “In October 2008, the UK was the first nation in the European Union to introduce graphic picture warnings to cigarette packets that showed smokers the grim reality of the effects smoking can have on their health. We are now currently working with the European Commission to develop new pictorial warnings for tobacco packaging, including testing different types of messages with smokers.”


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Coping mechanisms? Nooo. What is happening is that smokers are learning that the pictures of smoking related diseases are all bloody lies. The black lungs were damaged by smoke all right, in a fire. Smokers lungs look the same, post mortem as everyone else's. The black teeth, premature ageing, smoking babies etc. these just make people laugh or annoy the hell out of them. By all means find ways to prevent youngsters from starting, but leave the bloody adults alone, we are sicker of being ostracised, taxed to the hilt and bullied than we ever will be from smoking.