Monday, June 21, 2010

Four coffees a day 'will keep mouth cancer at bay'

This report appears to be based on a press release only. The full article has yet to appear online, apparently. That makes it hard to evaluate.

Note however that the study is epidemiological and, as in most of its ilk, the size of the effect falls well below the standard required to make causal inferences. And note that previous findings have been mixed. A proper meta-analysis might have helped to resolve that but the analysis reported below was based on a small collection of studies (selected how?) rather than being any sort of meta-analysis

Drinking four cups of coffee a day protects against oral cancer, a study shows. People with a heavy coffee habit are 39 per cent less likely to suffer from cancers of the mouth and pharynx, it suggests.

Doctors say people should drink coffee in moderation because caffeine can increase heart rate and blood pressure. However, the researchers insist evidence is strong that some of the 1,000 chemicals in coffee - including antioxidants - can offer protection against the cancers.

The American scientists used information gleaned from nine studies from Europe, America and Central America, which compared the coffee habits of around 5,000 cancer patients and more than 9,000 healthy people.

After taking into account smoking, diet and alcohol habits, they found that regular coffee drinkers were 39 per cent less likely to develop cancers of the mouth and pharynx than people who drank no coffee.

Lead author Dr Mia Hashibe, from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, said: 'Since coffee is so widely used and there is a relatively high incidence and low survival rate of these forms of cancers, our results have important public health implications that need to be further addressed. What makes our results so unique is that we had a very large sample size, and since we combined data across many studies, we had more statistical power to detect associations between cancer and coffee.'

Around 5,500 Britons are diagnosed with cancers of the lips, tongue, tonsils, gum and other parts of the mouth each year, while 1,800 people die from the disease. Oral cancer - mostly caused by smoking and alcohol - is on the rise in young and middle aged men. It is difficult to treat and is sometimes disfiguring. Other risk factors include a poor diet and harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun on the lips.

Early symptoms include ulcers that fail to heal, or which bleed easily, red or red and white patches in the mouth that do not go away, lumps in the tongue, mouth or throat, difficulty swallowing or chewing and persistent pain.

Studies on the links between coffee and cancer have produced confusing and sometimes contradictory results. These results confused because coffee drinking could be a marker for some other lifestyle factor that increases cancer risk, such as smoking and alcohol.

However, recent studies have shown that coffee may reduce the risk of cancers of the pancreas, colon, brain and gullet.

The study was published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.


Why beer is one of the healthiest alcoholic drinks available

This sounds like an attempt to correct misconceptions rather than new science but there is no doubt that beer does contain a lot of nutrients

The healthy properties of beer when consumed in moderation are not well understood, according to a new report. The drink is a rich source of vitamins, fibre, minerals and antioxidants and has a relatively low calorific value compared with many other alcoholic beverages, the study says.

The report, commissioned by The Beer Academy, which aims to help people enjoy beer sensibly, found that when drunk in moderation, beer is one of the healthiest alcoholic drinks available.

A spokeswoman said: 'Beer contains vitamins which can help you to maintain a well-balanced healthy diet, fibre to keep you regular, readily absorbed antioxidants and minerals such as silicon which may help to lower your risk of osteoporosis.'

A survey found that while 68% of people consider beer to be Britain's national drink, some 10% wrongly believe that beer contains fat, and 13% incorrectly believe that beer is made from chemicals rather than malted barley and hops.

The report also explores the psychological and sociability benefits of people enjoying a pint in their local pub - yet pubs are closing at a rate of 39 a week.

It argues that the pub is at the heart of every community and a place where people go to enjoy company and find out local news and information.

Pete Brown, an award-winning author, said: 'Still, we persist in the myth that somehow beer is an inferior drink to foreign imports such as wine. From Government receptions through to weddings and business occasions, wine rather than beer is served.

'It has been fashionable to look down on our own national drink in favour of overseas imports. But to do that is to turn our backs on our great British success story and our own heritage, and miss out on the myriad tastes and complexities that beer can offer.'

:: ICM interviewed a random sample of 2,004 adults aged 18 and over online between February 26 and 28 this year.


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