The key to preventing a stroke? One coffee and four cups of green tea a day, say scientists
It is not clear who the comparison group is here. I would have thought that ALL Japanese drank tea or coffee. People in Japan who drink neither must be very poor -- and THAT may be the reason for their worse health
When it comes to choosing between tea or coffee, the best answer may be to opt for both.
Scientists have found that individuals who enjoy a daily cup of coffee were 20 per cent less likely to have a stroke compared to those who shunned the drink. And those that drank at least four cups of green tea a day also benefitted from a similarly reduced stroke risk.
But as the popular beverages are thought to protect against the often fatal condition in different ways, the study suggests regularly drinking both could provide the greatest benefit.
Researchers looked at the drinking habits of almost 84,000 Japanese adults over a 13-year period.
'This is the first large-scale study to examine the combined effects of both green tea and coffee on stroke risks,' said lead author Dr Yoshihiro Kokubo, from Japan's National Cerebral and Cardiovascular Centre.
'You may make a small but positive lifestyle change to help lower the risk of stroke by adding daily green tea to your diet.'
The study, published in American Heart Association's journal Stroke, found that the greater amounts of coffee or green tea consumed, the lower their stroke risk.
The report found that 'combination of higher green tea and coffee consumptions contributed to the reduced risk of stroke as an interaction effect for each other.'
But even in lower quantities, green tea helped protect against the condition, with those drinking between two to three cups seeing their chance of a stroke fall by 14 per cent.
Participants in the study were 45 to 74 years old and were free from cancer and cardiovascular disease, and all the findings were adjusted to take into account age, sex and lifestyle factors like smoking, alcohol, weight, and exercise.
Green tea drinkers in the study were more likely to exercise compared to non-drinkers, while coffee drinkers tended to be younger, and were more likely to smoke and take exercise
Although it is unclear how green tea affects stroke risks, scientists believe a compounds known as catechins may provide some protection to blood vessels.
Several chemicals in coffee are believed to provide a boost to health, including caffeine and chlorogenic acid, which researchers suggest could help cut stroke risks by lowering the chances of developing type 2 diabetes.
Both drinks also helped to protect from the risk of heart attacks, according to the researchers. 'The regular action of drinking tea, coffee, largely benefits cardiovascular health because it partly keeps blood clots from forming,' said Dr Kokubo.'
Research last year found the more coffee you drink, the less likely you are to die from a number of different ailments, including heart disease, respiratory disease, diabetes and infections - but not cancer.
Researchers at the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Maryland, said they could not establish whether coffee was the cause of a lowered risk of death, but there was definitely a link.
The research, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, followed 229,000 men and 173,000 women aged between 50 and 71, between 1995 and 2008. Participants were classified according to how much coffee they drank.
There were 52,000 deaths during the period, with an 'inverse association' between coffee consumption and death. This means the greater the amount of coffee participants drank, the lower their risk of dying during the study.
There has long been persuasive anecdotal evidence about this so it is good to see it put on a firmer footing
It is a natural medicine used for thousands of years to clean wounds and fight bacteria. Now, however, honey could hold the key to combating the very modern threat of drug-resistant superbugs.
A study has shown that manuka honey can fight back on two fronts. Not only can it help to kill MRSA and other superbugs, it can also prevent bacteria from becoming resistant to antibiotics.
The danger of the rise of bugs which do not succumb to drugs was outlined this month by the Chief Medical Officer.
Professor Dame Sally Davies described it as a ‘ticking timebomb’ which could leave millions vulnerable to untreatable germs within a generation.
But a study in Australia offers a solution. At the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), tests were carried out on manuka, kanuka and clover honeys to find which was best at treating bacteria commonly found in chronic skin wounds
Researchers looked at key ingredients known to inhibit bacterial growth.
The best at doing this was Comvita medical-grade manuka honey, made by bees foraging on New Zealand’s manuka trees.
When combined with common antibiotics, the treatment hampered the spread of bacteria on wounds.
Crucially, scientists found the honey prevented the bugs from developing any resistance to the antibiotic.
Professor Liz Harry, of UTS, said: ‘Manuka honey should be used as a first resort for wound treatment, rather than the last resort, as it so often is.’
Commercial honey bought at shops is not suitable as it needs to be sterilised to make it medical grade.
Infections are becoming more difficult to defeat but no new class of antibiotic has been discovered since the 1980s.
It follows a previous study that found manuka honey is effective against more than 80 different types of bacteria, including hospital superbug MRSA.
Professor Liz Harry at UTS said: ‘We have shown bacteria do not become resistant to honey in the laboratory. Consistent with these facts, we also found that if MRSA were treated with just rifampicin [antibiotic], the superbug became resistant very quickly,’ she said.
‘However, when manuka honey and rifampicin are used in combination to treat MRSA, rifampicin-resistant MRSA did not emerge. In other words, honey somehow prevents the emergence of rifampicin-resistant MRSA – this is a hugely important finding.’
With overuse of antibiotics partly blamed for the increase in resistant superbugs, GPs will be asked to prescribe fewer antibiotics to patients.
Dr Harry added: ‘With the existence now of bacteria that are resistant to all available antibiotics, and the death of new antibiotics on the market, manuka honey should be used as a first resort for wound treatment, rather than the last resort as it so often does.
‘What we need is an acceptance by society that antibiotics are not going to provide all that we hoped for when they were discovered in the 1940s; and that we need to start getting very serious about using alternatives to this, or use honey in addition to them.’
While all types of honey have some antibacterial properties, the ingredients of manuka honey make it particularly powerful.
It is possible to buy dressings that already contain the honey, as well apply honey directly to bandages and other dressings.
However, supermarket honey will not do. Any honey used be sterilised to make it of medical grade.