Category Archives: Health

Health Watch: Caffeine & Hepatitis C

A recent study published this month in the journal Hepatalogy indicates that a daily intake of about 308mg of caffeine (equal to what’s found in 2.25 cups of regular coffee) had a positive impact on liver fibrosis.

Based on behavioral questionnaires combined with the regular test results of 177 patients with liver disease, the study found that people with a lower level of the scarring that can lead to cirrhosis had a higher level of caffeine intake via coffee. But while the data suggests that coffee itself might have some kind of hand in it as well, the numbers of the study are low enough to question the reliability of the data, given that 71% of those studied were coffee drinkers. Further analysis is required to determine if caffeine therapy on its own is beneficial, or if there is an additional element present in coffee that also plays a part.

The Caffeine Poster

We’ve talked before about how much caffeine is in different forms of coffee preparation, and we’ve even covered the relative caloric intake of many drinks compared with food. But if you’re looking for something a little more visual-oriented, check out the Caffeine Poster created by Randy Krum over at Cool Infographics.

Now it’s easy to reference how much caffeine you’re taking in each day via different drinks — from different forms of coffee to the legendary Jolt soda. Plus, it has a couple of fun facts incorporated in it, such as the date of National Coffee Day (wait, isn’t that every day?!) and how much caffeine you have to ingest before you feel the, uh, love.

Health Watch: Coffee & Diabetes

A recent meta-analysis of 18 different studies revealed that the intake of coffee and tea (both caffeinated and decaffeinated) reduced the likelihood of developing Type 2 diabetes, a form typically developed later in life.

The Archives of Internal Medicine evaluated studies that involved nearly 500,000 people and determined that there was a common link between people who drank 3 – 4 cups of coffee or tea per day and people who had a decreased chance — by a 5th or more — of developing this type of diabetes, sometimes referred to as ‘Adult Onset.’ Unlike the form often diagnosed in childhood, in which the patient does not produce insulin, Type 2 sufferers often produce insulin, but their cellular insulin receptors are unable to process both insulin and the sugars to which it attaches during metabolism.

Further analysis will be performed to confirm the findings, but preliminary reports suggest that each cup of coffee or tea per day can cut the chances of developing the disease by a multiple of 7%. So, you just have to drink about 14 cups a day, and you’re covered.

Jura UK Raising Money for Magnificent Tatas

Doing its part to keep cups full in more ways than one, Jura UK is holding a charitable auction in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. If you are in the UK and have always wanted an Ena5 — or if you just really, really love the color pink — you can take part in the auction of a one-of-a-kind Jura Ena5 with a pink and silver two-tone case.

Anyone who keeps up on our fetishes over here knows that the Jura Ena series are our favorite superautomatic espresso machines because they’re simple, reliable, space-conscious and make a great cup of coffee. And while we won’t get into our other fetishes, suffice it to say that we are huge supporters of finding a cure for breast cancer!

We hope Jura UK is successful in raising a nice contribution to the three charities that sponsor Breast Cancer Awareness Month in the UK, and we highly encourage you to help them out by bidding on this great machine.

Health Watch: Caffeine & Babies

Tracked as a potential contributor to a low birth weight in babies, caffeine is among the 3,508 other things mothers are encouraged not to ingest during pregnancy. OK, we grabbed that number out of the air but it’s, like, a lot. (No brie? Really?! Inhuman.) But caffeine does function as an effective respiratory stimulant, and so has often been used during neonatal care in hospitals for newborns with respiratory issues.

That may end, however, if this recent Canadian study is corroborated. Scientists dosed infant rats with caffeine and then tracked how it affected them as they grew into adulthood. Comparison trends in the rats who had been dosed with caffeine in infancy showed signs of sleeping disorders as adults: reduced sleeping time, a longer time to reach the first stage of sleep and fragmented non-REM sleep. Additionally, the rats that weren’t treated with caffeine had higher breathing at rest than those that were treated with caffeine.

The study reviewers indicated that it is a cause for concern and there will likely be more testing to analyze and determine just what type of neurological and/or developmental effect caffeine has on babies. Since breathing problems are one of the main reasons newborn babies are hospitalized and a primary cause of their death, we hope that determining how caffeine therapy effects the developing brain and then figuring out alternate treatments if necessary is a fairly high priority.

And when they’re done with that, they should figure out how to get brie back on the expectant mother menu.

Health Watch: Caffeine & Hormones

In yet another analysis of the long-running Nurses Health Study, researchers have found that caffeine appears to have an impact on the production of different sex hormones in women.

By analyzing the survey data provided by over 1,200 women and pairing it with hormonal testing done on blood samples taken throughout the duration of the study, the folks at Harvard Medical School have been able to correlate a higher intake of caffeine to a decreased level of estrogen in premenopausal women in the latter half of their menstrual cycles. Similarly, in postmenopausal women, they tracked higher levels of sex hormone-binding globulin, which is known to decrease different levels of estrogen and testosterone in the system.

But what these discoveries portend is unclear; unrelated studies have previously linked high caffeine intake and high levels of estrogen and progesterone to ovarian and breast cancers in pre-menopausal women, but if caffeine is reducing the hormone levels in this group of women, then why would it be a possible carcinogen? The study’s authors indicate that further research should be undertaken to make this relationship more clear.

Health Watch: Coffee & Bad Breath

A recent study at Tel Aviv University revealed that as-yet-undetermined compounds in coffee actually prevent the development of bad breath. This totally seems contrary to us, having been on both ends of some pretty heinous coffee breath, and even the researchers themselves had originally sought to find the link between coffee and increased halitosis.

Their experiments revealed that three different brands of coffee had the same effect of slowing the growth of the bacteria partially responsible for stinky mouths. They also found that the gases released by the bacteria were significantly decreased, as well — another component of bad breath. While they’re not sure quite yet just what elements of coffee are contributing to this effect, they are continuing to study it in hopes of finding something that can be used in future breath fresheners.

Health Watch: Coffee & Dehydration

The analysis of several studies on caffeine and how it affects the body’s hydration levels reveals that coffee may not be the evil dehydrator we always thought it was! From tracking the diuretic effect of caffeine intake to measuring hydration levels before and after caffeine consumption, scientists are experimenting with the theory that drinking coffee may not be a root cause for excessive dehydration.

For example, athletes — who are at particular risk of dehydration and decreased electrolyte balance due to their high energy workouts — were historically warned away from caffeine intake because the mild diuretic effect was considered to exacerbate this condition. However, new studies are indicating this assumption is erroneous, revealing no measurable increase in dehydration from caffeine intake before or after exercise.

Additionally, an extensive review paper published in 2007 even indicated that caffeinated fluids can be included in the daily fluid intake requirement for most people and that it served to provide the same re-hydration effect as pure water.

Health Watch: Caffeine & Self-Control

A new study indicates that caffeine intake prevents risk taking behavior after extreme sleep deprivation. Now, who would commission a study like this? The US military, of course!

The research took 25 healthy volunteers, subjected them to three consecutive days of sleep deprivation (totaling 75 hours) and then gave them a double-blind test involving the regular intake of either 200mg caffeine gum or a placebo gum, bi-hourly between 1 a.m. and 7 a.m.

The subjects then took part in a risk taking analysis test involving inflating balloons for money without causing them to burst. The results indicated that those who were taking caffeine throughout the experiment didn’t change their basic personal level of risk taking behavior, regardless of how long they were deprived of sleep. For those not on the caffeine regimen, however, had a significant increase in their impulsive and risky behavior.

While many of us don’t regularly stay up for three days straight if we can help it, there have been other studies that have recorded this kind of risk taking behavior increases even with sustained chronic sleep deprivation — for example, regularly getting just three hours of sleep per night. Further studies will be done to evaluate how caffeine impacts this type of deprivation.

So the next time you’re feeling in the mood to throw caution to the wind…knock back a shot of espresso and wait awhile. It may result in you keeping your pocketbook — and dignity — intact.

Health Watch: Caffeine & Asthma

Researchers at Indiana University have found that caffeine is as effective as an albuterol inhaler in preventing exercise induced asthma (EIA). When they combined the use of both caffeine and the inhaler, however, no additional benefits were noted.

A dosage equivalent to the amount of 9mg of caffeine per kilogram of weight was found to ease the symptoms of EIA in a manner similar to inhalers, and smaller amounts (3mg – 6mg/per kilogram) reduced the coughing, wheezing and other EIA symptoms, while not eradicating them completely.

The study’s subjects ingested differing amounts of caffeine one hour prior to running on a treadmill and their pulmonary condition was monitored 15 minutes before they started to run and then at different intervals afterward. The differing dosages were deemed to provide varying levels of relief from the symptoms, with 9mg functioning on par with the performance of an inhaler.

This study is part of a larger analysis of nutritional modifications that can be made in place of the corticosteroid used to alleviate EIA on a long-term basis. Other beneficial dietary habits found to reduce the severity of EIA include increasing fish oil and antioxidant intake while reducing salt. Researchers are interested in finding other methods for controlling or eliminating EIA without using pharmaceuticals because of the concern over long-term use and the decrease in efficacy after using the medications for prolonged periods.