Weekly Health Update:
Coffee Improves HDL Cholesterol Levels
"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 IMPROVES HDL CHOLESTEROL LEVELS
Coffee is the second most commonly traded commodity in the world (following oil), and is widely consumed around the world as the second most popular beverage (after water). It is estimated that the coffee industry generates some $60 billion in revenue every year.
In the United States, coffee drinkers consume an average of 3 cups of this caffeine-loaded beverage each day. (Slightly more than 50 percent of Americans drink coffee on a daily basis, while another 30 percent of the population drinks coffee on an occasional basis.)
Many health claims have been for coffee, although few have withstood the scrutiny of serious research. However, previous research studies have suggested that regular coffee consumption may reduce inflammation in the body, and increase HDL levels (HDL is also known as “the good cholesterol”). A newly published clinical research study, in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, has evaluated these claims, and the results of this research study will be of considerable interest to coffee lovers everywhere.
In this study, 47 volunteers who regularly consumed coffee were evaluated. During the first month of this study, these research volunteers refrained from drinking coffee. During the second month of this study, each volunteer consumed 4 cups of filtered coffee per day (each cup contained 150 ml of coffee). Finally, during the third month of this study, each volunteer consumed a nerve-jangling 8 cups of filtered coffee per day! Blood samples were collected throughout this research study, and were tested for total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol (the “bad cholesterol”), and caffeine, as well as for several markers of inflammation.
In this study, the regular daily consumption of 8 cups of coffee per day was found to significantly reduce the blood levels of several proteins associated with chronic inflammation (by as much as 16 percent, when compared to no coffee consumption). Moreover, HDL cholesterol levels increased by 7 percent during the final phase of this study (when compared to the “no coffee” first phase), when the research volunteers were consuming 8 cups of coffee per day (and the ratio between LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol decreased by 8 percent during the final phase of this study). At the same time, although previous research has suggested that coffee consumption may improve glucose control in diabetics, there was no evidence of improved glucose metabolism or blood-glucose levels with increasing coffee intake in this particular study.
Therefore, this intriguing little prospective clinical research study revealed that drinking 8 cups of coffee per day appeared to decrease the level of inflammation-associated proteins in the body, while also increasing levels of heart-healthy LDL cholesterol in the blood. However, this small and brief study cannot answer the very important question of whether or not these observed biochemical changes in the blood will actually translate into improved health. Nonetheless, this study’s finding that HDL cholesterol levels increase with regular daily coffee intake may indeed be good news for folks with mildly-to-moderately decreased HDL levels. Longer term prospective clinical studies will be necessary, however, to quantify the actual health benefit, if any, of regular coffee consumption.
To learn more about the critical role of diet as part of a cancer prevention lifestyle, 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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(Anticipated Publication Date: Summer of 2010)
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Robert A. Wascher, MD, FACS
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Dr. Wascher's Archives:
3-28-2010: Aspirin & Breast Cancer Survival
3-21-2010: Obesity, Alcohol & Liver Disease
3-14-2010: Nuts, Diet & Obesity
2-28-2010: Soy Isoflavones & Recurrent Prostate Cancer
2-14-2010: Pancreatic Cancer Risk, Sodas & Juice
1-31-2010: Concord Grape Juice Improves Memory
1-24-2010: Mozart, Music, Babies & Health
1-17-2010: Breast Cancer, Physical Therapy & Lymphedema
1-3-2010: Ginkgo Biloba, Memory & Cognitive Health
12-20-2009: CT Scans & Cancer Risk
11-29-2009: Exercise & Prostate Cancer Risk
11-22-2009: Genistein (Soy Isoflavone) & Prostate Cancer
11-15-2009: Breast Cancer Treatment & Chronic Pain
1-8-2009: Vitamin D & Breast Cancer Risk
11-1-2009: Exercise & Prostate Cancer Risk
10-25-2009: HPV Virus & Risk of Breast Cancer
10-11-2009: Vitamin D & Falls in the Elderly
10-4-2009: Surgery, NSQIP, Complications & Death
9-27-2009 Stress, Heart Disease, Exercise & Death
9-20-2009: Vitamin D & Colorectal Cancer Survival
9-13-2009: H1N1 Swine Flu Update
9-7-2009: Green Tea, Aging & Lifespan
8-30-2009: Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Diet & Fiber
8-23-2009: Update on Prostate Cancer and Cryotherapy
8-2-2009: Honesty, Dishonesty & Brain Function
7-26-2009: Coronary Artery CT Scans & Cancer Risk
7-12-2009: Breast Cancer & Metformin (Glucophage)
7-5-2009: Prostate Cancer & Green Tea
6-21-2009: Red Yeast Rice, Statins & Cholesterol
6-7-2009: Diet, Soy & Breast Cancer Risk
5-31-2009: Diet and Prostate Cancer Risk
5-24-2009: Diabetes, Glucose Control & Death
5-10-2009: Hemorrhoids & Surgery
4-26-2009: Are We Really Losing the War on Cancer?
4-19-2009: Exercise in Middle Age & Risk of Death
4-12-2009: Can Chronic Stress Harm Your Heart?
3-15-2009: Depression, Stress, Anger & Heart Disease
10-26-2008: Smoking & Quality of Life
10-19-2008: Agent Orange & Prostate Cancer
10-12-2008: Pomegranate Juice & Prostate Cancer
9-21-2008: Does Tylenol® (Acetaminophen) Cause Asthma?
4-27-2008: Stents vs. Bypass Surgery for Coronary Artery Disease; The “DASH” Hypertension Diet & Cardiovascular Disease Prevention; Testosterone Therapy for Women with Decreased Sexual Desire & Function
4-6-2008: Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), Pap Smear Results & Cervical Cancer; Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) Infection & Oral Cancer; Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) & the Risk of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disorder (GERD)
12-16-2007: Honey vs. Dextromethorphan vs. No Treatment for Kids with Night-Time Cough, Acupuncture & Hot Flashes in Women with Breast Cancer, Physical Activity & the Risk of Death, Mediterranean Diet & Mortality