This Is Your Brain on Coffee – and why that’s a good thing

For thousands of years, coffee has been one of the two or three most popular beverages on earth. But it’s only recently that scientists are figuring out that the drink has notable health benefits. In one large-scale epidemiological study from last year, researchers primarily at the National Cancer Institute parsed health information from more than 400,000 volunteers, ages 50 to 71, who were free of major diseases at the study’s start in 1995. By 2008, more than 50,000 of the participants had died. But men who reported drinking two or three cups of coffee a day were 10 percent less likely to have died than those who didn’t drink coffee, while women drinking the same amount had 13 percent less risk of dying during the study. It’s not clear exactly what coffee had to do with their longevity, but the correlation is striking.

Other recent studies have linked moderate coffee drinking — the equivalent of three or four 5-ounce cups of coffee a day or a single venti-size Starbucks — with more specific advantages: a reduction in the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, basal cell carcinoma (the most common skin cancer), prostate cancer, oral cancer and breast cancer recurrence…

There’s still much to be learned about the effects of coffee…It is also unclear whether caffeine by itself provides the benefits associated with coffee drinking or if coffee contains other valuable ingredients…Nor is there any evidence that mixing caffeine with large amounts of sugar, as in energy drinks, is healthful. But a cup or three of coffee “has been popular for a long, long time,” Dr. Gregory Freund says, “and there’s probably good reasons for that.”

I went through one terrible stretch of a couple of years on the road without coffee. I’d stopped because preliminary indications in a prestigious university study suggested a potential link between pancreatic cancer and coffee. And I’d lost an acquaintance just three weeks after diagnosis.

Fortunately, they completed the study and said, “Nope. No connection.”

That was 45 years ago. I love my coffee. I consider it a normal part of my Mediterranean diet. 🙂

8 thoughts on “This Is Your Brain on Coffee – and why that’s a good thing

  1. nicknielsensc says:

    I remember that study. You’re a stronger person than I; I wasn’t going to give up my coffee.

    My first response was “Here’s one for the pancreas.”

  2. Buzz says:

    “Researchers investigating the connection between dietary factors and endometrial cancer have discovered the consumption of three to four cups of coffee on a daily basis reduced the risk of endometrium by up to 19 percent according to the study published in the journal “Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.” See also (Google the following) A prospective cohort study of coffee consumption and risk of endometrial cancer over a 26-year follow-up. (Dec 2011), the abstract for which states: “Coffee has been reported to lower levels of estrogen and insulin, two hormones implicated in endometrial carcinogenesis, but prospective data on the relation between coffee consumption and risk of endometrial cancer are limited. We prospectively assessed coffee consumption in relation to endometrial cancer risk in the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) with 67,470 female participants aged 34 to 59 in 1980. Cumulative average coffee intake was calculated with all available questionnaires to assess long-term effects. Cox regression models were used to calculate incidence rate ratios (RR), controlling for other risk factors. RESULTS: Fewer than 4 cups of coffee per day were not associated with endometrial cancer risk. However, women who consumed 4 or more cups of coffee had 25% lower risk of endometrial cancer than those who consumed less than 1 cup per day.”

  3. OK Joe says:

    (2/21/15) “It’s official: Americans should drink more coffee” “When the nation’s top nutrition panel released its latest dietary recommendations on Thursday, the group did something it had never done before: weigh in on whether people should be drinking coffee. What it had to say is pretty surprising. Not only can people stop worrying about whether drinking coffee is bad for them, according to the panel, they might even want to consider drinking a bit more. The panel cited minimal health risks {link} associated with drinking between three and five cups per day. It also said that consuming as many as five cups of coffee each day (400 mg) is tied to several health benefits, including a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

  4. Josephus says:

    “Caffeine improves learning and memory in bees, as it does in people. Scientists know that. But, one might wonder, what do these laboratory findings mean in terms of the actual lives of bees? It’s not as if a flower meadow is sprinkled with coffee shops.
    Except that it is, in a way. Up to 55 percent of flowering plants are estimated to have caffeinated nectar. So any meadow or forest is going to have lots of places to stop by for a jolt. Margaret J. Couvillon of the University of Sussex, who studies the behavior of honeybees, wanted to see how caffeine affected bees’ behavior. What she found was that bees were drawn to caffeine like office workers to a coffee cart and that the favorite drug of so many human beings changed how bees evaluated nectar quality.”

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