Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Drinking four cups of coffee a day 'cuts risk' of developing diabetes

The Journal article is Coffee consumption and risk of chronic disease in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC)–Germany study.

The effects observed were small and were obtained only by comparing extreme quartiles -- a rather desperate type of analysis that ignores curvilinearity and most of the data. The obvious inference is that there was no overall relationship between coffee consumption and anything else.

And the basic dietary data was from a self-report questionnaire! Not findings to be taken seriously. Epidemiology at its most rubbishy

Moderate consumption of coffee - four to five cups of coffee a day - may lower the chances of developing type 2 diabetes compared with those drinking it occasionally or not at all. A new study suggests a cut in risk of around 30 per cent from regular consumption of coffee - whether it was caffeinated or decaffeinated.

The findings, which are the latest from a major European investigation into the effects of diet and lifestyle on health, also reveal that coffee drinking does not appear to increase the risk of heart disease or cancer.

Altogether 42,659 people taking part in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) Germany study were followed up for almost nine years on average.

During that time, there were 1,432 cases of type 2 diabetes diagnosed, 394 heart attacks, 310 strokes cases and 1,801 cancer cases.

Drinking more than four cups of coffee a day - caffeinated and decaffeinated - compared with less than one cup was not linked to a higher risk of developing a chronic disease.

A lower risk of 20-30 per cent of developing type 2 diabetes was linked to moderate consumption of both kinds of coffee, says a report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Ten countries contribute to the EPIC study, including two centres in Germany which carried out the latest analysis.

It had been previously thought diabetes risk may be cut by drinking coffee but there have been conflicting results on whether it protects or promotes chronic diseases such as heart problems and cancer.

Research last year suggested each additional cup of coffee a day was linked to a cut of seven per cent in risk of diabetes and four cups a day equivalent to a cut of around 25 per cent compared with those drinking no coffee.

Studies on decaffeinated coffee have made similar findings with the protective effect due to ‘direct biological effects’ such as antioxidants and magnesium. Because of the benefits from decaffeinated coffee, it is unlikely caffeine is solely responsible for the effect.

Dr Euan Paul, executive director of the British Coffee Association, said: ‘This study adds to the growing scientific data that suggests moderate coffee consumption, four to five cups of coffee per day, is safe and does not increase the risk of a range of chronic disease.

‘It is particularly encouraging to see that coffee consumption may lower the risk of type II diabetes given that around 90 per cent of all adults in the UK with diabetes have type 2 diabetes.’

He pointed out that pregnant women are advised to reduce caffeine intake during pregnancy to 200mg a day from all sources. This includes caffeine intake from tea, coffee, cola, and chocolate.


Super avocado could help combat antibiotic-resistant infections in hospitals

A very early announcement based on research in laboratory glassware only but we can certainly wish that it eventually pans out in humans

A Chilean avocado may contain the secret to fighting aggressive, antibiotic-resistant infections in hospitals all over the world. A natural substance found in the Chilean rainforest fruit blocks yellow staphylococci bacteria's ability to reject antibiotics.

These specific bacteria are the most common cause of infection in wounds from an operation. They develop a resistance particularly quickly - strains that do not respond to treatment have already been found in the USA and Greece.

PhD student Jes Gitz Holler, from the University of Copenhagen, worked with the Mapuche people in Chile to make the discovery. He said: 'I have discovered a natural substance in a Chilean avocado plant that is active in combination treatment with traditional antibiotics.

'Resistant bacteria have an efflux pump in their bacterial membrane that efficiently pumps out antibiotics as soon as they have gained access. 'I have identified a natural substance that inhibits the pumping action, so that the bacteria's defence mechanisms are broken down and the antibiotic treatment allowed to work,' explains Jes Gitz Holler.

The student gathered specimens of the plant in Chile, where the Mapuche people use the leaves of the avocado to heal wounds. The results have been published in the Journal of Microbial Chemotherapy.

Gitz Holler said: 'The natural compound has great potential and perhaps in the longer term can be developed into an effective drug to combat resistant staphylococci. 'At this time there are no products on the market that target this same efflux-inhibitor mechanism.

'We want to improve the active substance using synthetic chemistry in the laboratory. That will also ensure sustainable production of a potential drug while protecting rainforest plants.'

The student emphasises that a commercial product will also benefit the Mapuche people. At present there is a written agreement between the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences and the representative of the Mapuche people, Alfonso Guzmán, PhD, who helped procure the plant material.

Yellow staphylococcus – Staphylococcus aureus – is the most common cause of infection in wounds from an operation. However, the bacteria can be the cause of many diseases, from abscesses and food poisoning to life-threatening infections such as infective endocarditis and sepsis.

The bacteria have been a major problem in hospitals worldwide since the 1940s, and up to now the drug industry has managed to develop new antibiotics in step with the increasingly aggressive behaviour of the bacteria.

Unfortunately, that development appears to be turning: 'For all intents and purposes, the drug industry is not pursuing research into new antibiotics. It is simply too expensive relative to possible earnings, and there is more money in drugs to treat chronic diseases such as diabetes.

'Therefore, the bacteria are winning the race – resistance increases and treatment options are scarce. Research will have to find new paths and natural substances are one of them,' writes Gitz Holler.


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