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Coffee: New Research Shows Huge Promise for Health Benefits for Liver, Diabetes

Science News has a lengthy article on the health benefits of coffee. As always, research over time is what counts in proving out such things, but here is the link and some selected excerpts.

Coffee reveals itself as an unlikely elixir: From liver disease to diabetes, coffee compounds protect against an array of health conditions

Selected excerpts—be sure to read the entire article. Not also:

In earlier work, van Dam sought to establish safe upper limits for coffee intake. He and others found no added mortality risk among people who drink six cups a day.

Despite the flood of positive findings, some researchers can’t help but remain cautious. Klatsky offers an example, regarding the studies showing no link between atrial fibrillation and coffee, caffeinated or not. “People who get symptoms from coffee tend to stop drinking it,” he says. So the only coffee drinkers in some studies would be those who don’t feel any bad effects, a self-selected group. Other studies often failed to note the kind of coffee people drank, the degree of roasting or other details that can matter.

I used to drink coffee, and I am considering restarting that. My favorite coffee was Kona Coffee (web site temporarily down).

* Online, September 18. In print October 3, 2015 Science News as “The Beneficial Bean: Coffee reveals itself as an unlikely health elixir”.

Liver

Coffee drinkers who have hepatitis C, a viral infection that can lead to liver fibrosis and cancer, show similar benefits. Of 177 liver disease patients, most with hepatitis C, those who drank more than two cups of caffeinated coffee per day were less likely than scant drinkers to have their fibrosis become severe, according to a study in Hepatology in 2010. Curiously, other sources of caffeine, such as energy drinks, didn’t provide a benefit.

Fatty liver disease, which is rising in tandem with obesity rates, may be susceptible to coffee as well. U.S. scientists identified 306 overweight people who hadn’t been diagnosed with liver disease. Ultrasound images and biopsies revealed 180 who had fat deposits in the liver, early signs of fibrosis. Based on those tests, coffee abstainers were moving faster toward fibrosis than consumers. People who had advanced-stage fatty liver averaged less than a cup a day of caffeinated coffee, compared with nearly two cups for those who were still at an early stage of the disease, a 2012 report in Hepatology noted.

Coffee shows a stunning effect against liver cancer. Earlier this year, a European team reported that women who drank two and a half or more cups and men who drank three and a half or more daily were 72 percent less likely to develop liver cancer than people who drank less than about one-third cup a day. The study included roughly half a million healthy people monitored for 11 years. During the study, 201 people developed liver cancer. The findings remained robust even when adjusted to account for hepatitis, the scientists reported in the April 15 International Journal of Cancer.

Diabetes

Coffee’s protective effect against type 2 diabetes came to light in 2002. In a study of healthy people, van Dam and his Dutch colleague Edith Feskens found that those who averaged a whopping seven cups a day were half as likely to develop diabetes over several years as those who got by on two or fewer cups a day. In this study of people ages 30 to 60, protection seemed to start at three cups a day and rise with intake.

That report, published in the Lancet, triggered dozens of studies seeking to replicate it, and many have. An international review of 28 studies, published in Diabetes Care in 2014, included more than 1 million healthy people monitored for 10 months to 20 years. About 45,000 developed type 2 diabetes while in a study. The likelihood of a diabetes diagnosis was 21 percent lower in people drinking three cups a day versus none. For those drinking six cups daily, risk was 33 percent lower. Regular or decaf didn’t matter.

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