Coffee & the Risk of Death from Heart Disease & Cancer
"A critical weekly review of important new research findings for health-conscious readers..."
By, Robert A. Wascher, MD, FACS
The information in this column is intended for informational purposes only, and does not constitute medical advice or recommendations by the author. Please consult with your physician before making any lifestyle or medication changes, or if you have any other concerns regarding your health.
Welcome to Weekly Health Update
“A critical weekly review of important new research findings for health-conscious readers”
COFFEE & THE RISK OF DEATH FROM HEART DISEASE & CANCER
Last month, I reviewed research showing that increased coffee consumption was associated with a decrease in inflammation and an increase in HDL cholesterol (the “good cholesterol”). However, as I noted in that column, this small study did not address any long-term health outcomes of frequent coffee consumption ( Coffee Improves HDL Cholesterol Levels ). Now, a newly published prospective public health study, from Japan, suggests that regular coffee consumption may, indeed, have long-term health benefits (at least for half of the population…). (I should also note that, as a disclaimer, I am not a coffee drinker, despite reviewing two coffee-related health research studies in as many months!)
The results of this large Japanese research study appear in the current issue of the Journal of Nutrition. In this prospective epidemiological study, 18,287 men and 19,455 women (between the ages of 40 and 64 years) were prospectively included in the Miyagi Cohort Study, which began in 1990. All of these study volunteers were without any clinical history of cancer, heart disease, or stroke when they entered into the Study. After an average of more than 10 years of follow-up, 2,454 of the volunteers died from various causes, including 426 cases of fatal cardiovascular disease and 724 fatal cases of cancer.
These volunteers were categorized and analyzed according to their self-reported daily consumption of coffee: “never-drinkers,” “occasional-drinkers,” 1 to 2 cups per day, and 3 or more cups per day. Other known risk factors for cardiovascular disease (including heart disease and stroke) and cancer were also factored into the analysis of the risk of death associated with coffee consumption for each volunteer.
Among the women in this study, increasing levels of daily coffee consumption were associated a decreasing risk of death, due to any cause. (This “dose-dependent” relationship between daily coffee consumption and risk of death strongly suggests a direct clinical relationship between increased coffee consumption and a decreased risk of death.) When compared to the women who did not drink coffee at all, the women who drank 3 or more cups of java per day were 25 percent less likely to die, from any cause, during this decade-long public health study. The coffee-associated reduction in the risk of death from cardiovascular disease was even more powerful (and also appeared to be “dose-dependent”), as the women who downed 3 or more cups of coffee per day experienced a whopping 55 percentdecrease in the risk of death due to cardiovascular causes! Finally, there was an apparent modest decrease in the risk of dying from colorectal cancer among the female coffee drinkers, but no other reduction in the risk of dying from cancer was observed in association with regular coffee consumption among these women volunteers.
Well, I have just shared with you the good news regarding reduced death rates associated with regular coffee consumption from this large, prospective, long-term public health study; and many of you will notice that I have not yet mentioned the health impact of coffee on men! This is because, unfortunately, this study did not identify any apparent beneficial health effects of regular coffee consumption in men. The reason, or reasons, for this gender-related disparity is not clear, although it is well known that there are major differences in both the incidence of cardiovascular disease between men and women, and differences in the way that cardiovascular diseases (and heart disease, in particular) manifest themselves in women versus men. It is, therefore, possible, that cardiovascular disease factors that are more unique to women are directly impacted upon by regular coffee consumption. (At least no adverse effects of regular coffee consumption on male mortality were observed in this large public health study!)
So, ladies, keep the favorable results of this clinical research study in mind whenever you order that next cuppa Joe!
To learn more about the role of coffee, and other sources of dietary tannins, as potential cancer prevention nutrients, look for the publication of my new landmark evidence-based book, “ A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” in the summer of this year.
I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the nearly 120,000 new and returning readers who visited our premier global health information website last month. As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.
Disclaimer: As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physicianbeforemaking any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity
Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author
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For a more detailed analysis of coffee and green tea as potential cancer prevention agents, please look for the publication of my new book later this year ("A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race").