Disease Proof

LA Times Looks at Coffee

Some people might like their daily cup of java, but as Dr. Fuhrman’s colleague Jeff Novick explains, its time for people to wake up to the effects of caffeine. Here’s more:
“After drinking a cup of coffee, blood pressure can rise up to 5 or even 10 millimeters of mercury,” said Dr. Charalambos Vlachopoulos from the Cardiology Department of the Henry Dunant Hospital in Athens, Greece. Increases of this magnitude can increase a person’s risk of suffering from a stroke or a heart attack.


Elsewhere, Dr. M. O’Rourke and colleagues at St. Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney, Australia, presented data at the 22nd Congress of the European Society of Cardiology linking caffeine consumption with alterations in the aorta, the main artery supplying blood to the body. Their study showed that caffeine led to a loss of aortic elasticity and raised blood pressure. The elasticity of the aorta is linked to heart function and coronary blood flow.

In a Finnish study reported in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, Dr. Maarku Heliovaara of the National Public Health Institute in Helsinki and colleagues found that people who drank four or more cups of coffee each day had twice the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, compared with people who drank less coffee. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s defenses attack its own tissues, resulting in a chronic destruction and deformity of the joints. Smoking, high cholesterol, being overweight, and certain dietary factors also have been linked with a higher risk of the disease.
Now, the to-drink or not-to-drink coffee debates rages on. With this being said, The Los Angeles Times takes a look at the world’s wake up drink. Read on:
Such studies make headlines every day, and often, as the public knows too well, they contradict each other. One week we may hear that pets are good for your health, the next week that they aren't. One month, cellphone use causes brain cancer; the next month, it doesn't.


"It's the cure of the week or the killer of the week, the danger of the week," says Dr. Barry Kramer, associate director for disease prevention at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. It's like treating people to an endless regimen of whiplash, he says.

Take the case of just one item: coffee. Drinking two or three cups per day can triple the risk of pancreatic cancer, according to a 1981 study. Not so, concluded a larger follow-up study published in 2001.

Coffee reduces the risk of colorectal cancer, found a 1998 study. Not so, according to one published later, in 2005.
Dr. Fuhrman is hardly an advocate of coffee-drinking. He claims coffee can help walk you down the road towards cardiovascular disease. Here’re a couple sentences from Eat to Live:
Caffeine addicts are at higher risk of cardiac arrhythmias that could precipitate sudden death.1 Coffee raises blood pressure and raises cholesterol and homocysteine, two risk factors for heart disease.2
Makes you wonder if that morning fix is really worth it.
1. Mehta, A., A. C. Jain, M.C. Mehta, and M. Billie. 1997. Caffeine and cardiac arrhythmias: an experimental study in dogs with review of literature. Acta Cardiol. 52 (3):273-83.

2. Nurminen, M.L., L. Niittymen, R. Korpela, and H. Vapaatalo. 1999. Coffee, caffeine and blood pressure: a critical review. Eur. J. Clin. Nutr. 53 (11): 831-39; Christensen, B., A. Mosdol, L. Rettersol, et al. 2001. Abstention from filtered coffee reduces the concentration of plasma homocysteine and serum cholesterol—a randomized controlled trail. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 74(3):302-07.
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Comments (3) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
lexell - September 18, 2007 11:38 AM

If the LA Times considers coffee to be the *world's* wake-up drink, they should do more research. Coffee may be the US's wake-up drink, but the rest of the world drinks far more tea than coffee.

Tea also is also a more healthy drink than coffee.

Full disclosure: I didn't read the LA Times article. :)

Ron Goodbin - September 18, 2007 2:23 PM

So it's the caffeine in coffee that's problematic. What about decaf coffee ? I just love the taste, hard to give up.

Kirsten - September 19, 2007 3:07 PM

Unfortunately, I love my decaf too. At the very least, it's Swiss water processed, though I'm not sure if it's fair trade ...

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