Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Heavy coffee drinkers face death risk: study
An honest researcher: "It could be the coffee, but it could just as easily be things that heavy coffee drinkers do," says The University of Queensland's Dr Carl Lavie. "We have no way of knowing the cause and effect."
This is not meant to keep you awake at night, but heavy coffee drinkers are at increased risk of death, according to a major study.
For reasons that researchers don't fully understand, a 17-year study of 45,000 people shows those aged under 55 who average more than 28 cups a week are at risk.
It's not that people are dying at a rapid rate. But men who drink more than four cups a day are 56 per cent more likely to die and women have double the chance compared with moderate drinkers, according to the The University of Queensland and the University of South Carolina study.
Cardiovascular disease is not a major factor and people aged older than 55 do not appear to be adversely affected, say the authors of the report published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
"It could be the coffee, but it could just as easily be things that heavy coffee drinkers do," says The University of Queensland's Dr Carl Lavie. "We have no way of knowing the cause and effect."
However, the statistics have been adjusted to remove the impact of smoking.
Close to five per cent of people in the study died during the 17 years.
"It's not as if people are dying like flies because they are drinking coffee. But it is statistically significant," says Dr Lavie.
"We are not trying to scare people, but I do think it makes sense to keep average coffee consumption to two to three cups a day."
This does not mean people should be afraid to occasionally have more than that, he says.
Senior investigator Steven Blair of the University of South Carolina says it is significant the results do not show an association between coffee consumption and people older than 55.
It is also important that death from cardiovascular disease is not a factor, he says.
Healthy lifestyle 'slows cellular ageing'
A very small and unrepresentative sample and an effect of mainly speculative implications
Healthy lifestyle changes such as eating whole foods and practising yoga could reverse the ageing of the body's cells, a new study suggests.
Patients who adopted healthy diets, exercise regimes and "stress management" techniques such as meditation or yoga for five years developed younger-looking chromosomes.
The type of change seen in their chromosomes, the structures which house our genetic code, has previously been linked to a lower risk of age-related disease and greater life expectancy.
The findings, from a pilot study of prostate cancer patients, could equally apply to women and healthy men although larger studies are needed to confirm the results, researchers said.
They studied data on 35 patients who had a non-aggressive form of prostate cancer and had chosen to be regularly assessed by doctors rather than undergoing conventional treatment.
Ten of the men adopted a "lifestyle change intervention" which included eating a plant-based diet of whole foods, moderate exercise, stress management and regular group support classes, while the other 25 made no change to their lifestyle.
The scientists, from the University of California, San Francisco, examined changes in the men's telomeres, structures which sit at the ends of chromosomes like the protective caps on the end of a shoelace.
Telomeres prevent the DNA within our chromosomes from being damaged, but as we grow older they become shorter and cells begin to age and die more rapidly.
Previous studies have linked the shortening of telomeres to a decrease in life expectancy and a greater risk of age-related diseases such as heart disease, vascular dementia, obesity, stroke, diabetes and various cancers.
But the new research found that in the group who adopted strict and comprehensive healthy changes to their diet and lifestyle, telomeres lengthened by an average of 10 per cent over five years.
The more positive changes the men made, the greater the increase in telomere length. In contrast, among those who did not alter their way of life, telomeres decreased in length by three per cent on average.
Although it is well known that a healthy diet and plenty of exercise can result in a host of medical befits, the findings published in The Lancet Oncology journal, are the first evidence of such an effect on telomeres.
Prof Dean Ornish, who led the study, said: "The implications of this relatively small pilot study may go beyond men with prostate cancer.
"If validated by large-scale randomised controlled trials, these comprehensive lifestyle changes may significantly reduce the risk of a wide variety of diseases and premature mortality. Our genes, and our telomeres, are a predisposition, but they are not necessarily our fate.”
Dr Lynne Cox, a Biochemistry lecturer at the University of Oxford, who was not involved in the study, said the findings "support the calls for adoption of and adherence to healthier lifestyles".
It is "perhaps too soon to judge whether this increase in telomere length will correlate with increased longevity or healthspan", she added.
Posted by jonjayray at 12:14 AM