Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Is Coffee the New Green Tea?

tidbits that tantalize A Magical Elixir?

The debate rages on. Is coffee a natural born killer, inexorably driving blood pressures to unsustainable levels, contributing to stroke, heart disease and cancer? Or, is the new persona of coffee destined to be the face of vim, vigor and vitality? A Super Drink - a magical elixir with the power to heal the downtrodden, the weary, the forlorn...

Who's to say? Well, sure - anyone with a kitchen table can weigh in on the debate, but what of the pros? You know, the type of people who schedule conferences with names like, "Experimental Biology 2007." Ah, seems we're in luck. The conference just wrapped up on May 2nd, and coffee was indeed a "hot" topic.

In a "controversy session," panelists debated the power of coffee for both good and evil. The session included discussions of recent studies conducted at Harvard indicating coffee may inhibit Type 2 Diabetes and certain types of cancers. A review of 400 studies assessing coffee consumption and cancer was also presented.

Studies indicate coffee consumption may reduce colon, rectal and liver cancers. Researchers postulate the protective action is the result of coffee's ability to lower secretions of cholesterol, bile acid and natural sterol in the colon. On the flip side, coffee consumption appears to increase the likelihood of leukemia and stomach cancer. Confused? Welcome to life's version of the pop quiz.

Researchers at Harvard School of Public Health, led by Dr. Rob van Dam, are also conducting a clinical trial to further their understanding of coffee's ability to protect against diabetes. The scientists are attempting to identify which of the hundreds of components of coffee are active players in this game. They are quite sure caffeine is not, as both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee show the same benefit. The most likely candidate at this point is chlorogenic acid, an antioxidant.

So, while the pros carry on the debate, what are your plans? That's right - mosey on over to that espresso machine and grab a refill. After all, you want to do your part in the fight against cancer...

To read more about the study, see this from Reuters. To read more about the clinical trial being conducted at Harvard, see this from ClinicalTrials.gov.


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