Monday, June 03, 2013

Study: Regular coffee intake associated with lower risk of liver disease

This appears to be data dredging through a self report questionnaire.  VERY dubious findings

In recent years, several studies have been conducted to analyze the effects of coffee on several aspects of health, and most often the results have been interesting. A new study has discovered one such health benefit offered by regular intake of coffee: it reduces the risk of primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), a detrimental liver disease.

According to new research by Mayo Clinic, regular intake of coffee lowers the risk of PSC, an autoimmune liver disease. The study findings have been presented at the Digestive Disease Week 2013 conference that was held at Orlando, Fla.

"While rare, PSC has extremely detrimental effects," study author Craig Lammert, M.D., a Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist, said in a press statement. "We're always looking for ways to mitigate risk, and our first-time finding points to a novel environmental factor that also might help us to determine the cause of this and other devastating autoimmune diseases."

PCS is a disease of the bile duct that triggers inflammation and subsequent obstruction of the ducts, and this finally leads to cirrhosis of the liver, liver failure and biliary cancer.

To prove their finding, the study researchers examined a large group of patients who had PSC and primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) along with a group of healthy patients. On analyzing the data, they learnt that intake of coffee was linked to a reduced risk of PSC. When compared to healthy people, patients suffering from PSC were not likely to consume coffee. The PSC patients spent 20 percent less time regularly drinking coffee than the healthy group.

From the study, researchers deduce that both PSC and PBS differ from each more than originally thought.

"Moving forward, we can look at what this finding might tell us about the causes of these diseases and how to better treat them," Konstantinos Lazaridis, M.D., a Mayo Clinic hepatologist and senior study author, says. 


Report: Sunshine vitamin "may treat asthma"

This is a study in laboratory glassware only

The amount of time asthma patients spend soaking up the sun may have an impact on the illness, researchers have suggested.  A team at King's College London said low levels of vitamin D, which is made by the body in sunlight, was linked to a worsening of symptoms.

Its latest research shows the vitamin calms an over-active part of the immune system in asthma.  However, treating patients with vitamin D has not yet been tested.

People with asthma can find it hard to breathe when their airways become inflamed, swollen and narrowed.

Most people are treated with steroids, but the drugs do not work for all.

"We know people with high levels of vitamin D are better able to control their asthma - that connection is quite striking," said researcher Prof Catherine Hawrylowicz.

Her group investigated the impact of the vitamin on a chemical in the body, interleukin-17. It is a vital part of the immune system and helps to fight off infections.

However, it can cause problems when levels get too high and has been strongly implicated in asthma.

In this study, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, vitamin D was able to lower levels of interleukin-17 when it was added to blood samples taken from 28 patients.

The team is now conducting clinical trials to see if giving the sunshine vitamin to patients could ease their symptoms. They are looking at patients who do not respond to steroids as they produce seven times more interleukin-17 than other patients.

Prof Catherine Hawrylowicz told the BBC: "We think that treating people with vitamin D could make steroid-resistant patients respond to steroids or let those who can control their asthma take less steroids."

She said a culture of covering up in the sun and using sun cream may have increased asthma rates, but "it is a careful message because too much sun is bad for you".

Malayka Rahman, from the charity Asthma UK, said: "For the majority of people with asthma, current available medicines are an effective way of managing the condition but we know that they don't work for everyone, which is why research into new treatments is vital.

"We also know that many people with asthma have concerns about the side effects of their medicines so if vitamin D is shown to reduce the amount of medicines required, this would have an enormous impact on people's quality of life.

"We look forward to the results of the clinical trial."


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