Health Watch: Caffeine & Skin Cancer

Sun exposure and skin damage may not be a concern for those of us in more northern climes right now, but if you’re wintering in Rio or snowbirding in Santa Fe, you might be interested in this interesting study on the positive effects caffeine may have on post-sun exposure skin.

Based on a study conducted a few years ago that indicated women who drank more than 6 cups of caffeinated coffee per day had a lower incidence of skin cancer than those who drank less, researchers at the University of Washington exposed mice to UV rays and then rubbed them down with a caffeine solution.

The result? Well, preliminarily, it appears that the mice who received the caffeine solution on their skin had a lower incidence of damaged skin cells than the mice that did not and they’re hypothesizing that the caffeine helps the body eliminate the damaged cells more easily.

While more testing is needed to determine how caffeine can help with skin cancer prevention, you might think about adding a little extra protection to your sunblock by cooling off with an iced latte while you’re relaxing on the beach.

Holiday Fund Drive: Lavazza Tierra! & Coffee Kids

Tierra_coffee
We love working with you and we love coffee, so it’s important to us that what we love doing helps others do what they love as well. Sustainability in the coffee industry will keep us all in delicious cups of coffee for years to come, and while we’ve written before about our support of the non-profit organization Coffee Kids, as well as about Lavazza’s Tierra! coffee, we decided to put our money where our mouth is this holiday season and launch a fund drive!

Now through 1/15/09, we’re donating 5% of all sales of Lavazza’s Tierra! coffee to Coffee Kids! Featuring smoky molasses aromas and flavor undertones of floral and bittersweet chocolate, Tierra! is a tasty gift for anyone you love that loves coffee — and, yes, that includes you!

Space Joe

If the inability to enjoy a hot cup of coffee in space has kept you from pursuing your cosmonaut dreams, last week’s invention of the zero-G coffee cup by NASA astronaut Dave Pettit is sure to make you tingle.

Pettit is known for funky space inventions, but when he arrived at the International Space Station, he had one goal in mind: Find a way to enjoy his beloved joe from a cup, rather than a bag & straw. Liquids in space can be a messy proposition, and hot coffee introduces an element of risk as well, but that wasn’t going to stop Pettit from devising a method of enjoying his java from a cup.

Using a piece of his mission book, he formed a vessel with a tear-drop shape that is closed at one end. The surface tension within the cup keeps the coffee inside instead of floating about the station. He suggested that his invention could apply to more than just coffee — future space colonists could utilize this kind of cup for celebratory toasts.

So now that the coffee cup question has been answered and you’re back on track to becoming an astronaut, you’d better hit the books — time to learn Russian.

Health Watch: Caffeine & Alertness

You drink it to wake up, to focus more, to get you through the day — heck, even to sober up. But has the effect of caffeine on your central nervous system been overstated? A group of researchers from the National University of Ireland in Galway think so. In fact, they think that the only benefit you see from your caffeine consumption is to further your caffeine consumption.

Through their study, they were unable to find a measurable difference in alertness and cognitive ability in participants, and found that the only difference was the abatement of caffeine withdrawal symptoms regular caffeine consumers felt in the morning after their body had metabolized caffeine overnight.

For at least a month, they gave a participants either a placebo or a caffeine pill equal to one cup of coffee to take three times a day. They then tested their ability to concentrate, resulting in no discernible difference between the control group and the caffeine consumers. They also tested the control group’s reaction to caffeine after having not had the drug in their system for quite some time and were also unable to track a noticeable difference in their level of concentration between their placebo state and caffeinated state.

So if it’s not really waking us up, helping us focus and getting us through our day….why are we drinking it? Well, despite the position that drinking it may essentially be a self-fulfilling prophecy, we’ll keep drinking it for the taste! Yeah, that’s right — for the taste.

Recipe: Espresso Biscuits — Eggless

Here’s a great recipe for anyone who has an egg allergy — or if you’re in the mood for cookies but don’t have any eggs on hand!


Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon finely ground espresso beans
  • 1/2 lb unsalted butter,at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350*F with two racks spaced evenly apart. Line two
    baking sheets with parchment paper. Sift together the flour, cocoa and
    ground espresso; set aside.
  2. In a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle
    attachment,combine the butter, confectioners sugar and vanilla; beat on
    medium speed until creamy, 3-4 minutes. Reduce speed to low, and
    gradually beat the flour mixture into the butter mixture, scraping down
    the sides of the bowl twice.
  3. Roll a heaping tablespoon of dough between the palms of your hands
    to form a ball. Place on prepared baking sheet; repeat with remaining
    dough, spacing cookies 2 inches apart. Place the tines of a fork into
    dough and gently flatten the ball into biscuit shape. Bake biscuits
    until just firm to the touch, 12 to 15 minutes, rotating half way
    through. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

These are great to serve along with coffee or espresso when you’re entertaining.

(Recipe originally developed by Martha Stewart)

Health Watch: Caffeine & Training

Are you a cyclist looking for a quicker way to regain your energy stores after a long distance ride? Well, this interesting study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology indicates that caffeine has a significant positive impact on helping you to rehab more quickly after a long ride. The catch? You have to drink a lot of it — which may not be a negative thing for us caffeine maniacs.

At the School of Exercise and Sport Science in the University of Sydney, researchers found that study participants that drank caffeine-supplemented high-carb drinks after long rides restored much more of their glycogen stores (which gives the primary energy for endurance activities) when compared with participants who drank just a regular high-carb drink.