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    Posted May 20, 2012 by
    Farmersburg, Indiana
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    Coffee: It Does the Body Good


    According  to a new study on the effects of coffee, covering  a little more than  400,000 people, the naysayers of the morning beverage may have misstated  its detrimental properties. Per the study, people who drink coffee tend  to live longer lives than those who do not imbibe. However, why that  is, is not known.

    I  always knew there was a reason I was attracted to a steaming cup of  joe. Of course my doctors told me to keep drinking java years ago since  caffeine seems to help in keeping the pain and intensity of my cluster  headaches to a minimum. Recent reports also indicated a benefit to the  heart as well.

    One  of life's simple pleasures just got a little sweeter. After years of  waffling research on coffee and health, even some fear that java might  raise the risk of heart disease, a big study finds the opposite: Coffee  drinkers are a little more likely to live longer. Regular or decaf  doesn't matter.

    "Our study suggests that's really not the case,"  said lead researcher Neal Freedman of the National Cancer Institute.  "There may actually be a modest benefit of coffee drinking."

    No  one knows why. Coffee contains a thousand things that can affect health,  from helpful antioxidants to tiny amounts of substances linked to  cancer. The most widely studied ingredient - caffeine - didn't play a  role in the new study's results.

    It's not that earlier studies  were wrong. There is evidence that coffee can raise LDL, or bad  cholesterol, and blood pressure at least short-term, and those in turn  can raise the risk of heart disease.

    Even in the new study, it  first seemed that coffee drinkers were more likely to die at any given  time. But they also tended to smoke, drink more alcohol, eat more red  meat and exercise less than non-coffee-drinkers. Once researchers took  those things into account, a clear pattern emerged: Each cup of coffee  per day nudged up the chances of living longer.

    The study was  done by the National Institutes of Health and AARP. The results are  published in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine.

    Of the  402,260 participants, about 42,000 drank no coffee. About 15,000 drank  six cups or more a day. Most people had two or three.

    By 2008,  about 52,000 of them had died. Compared to those who drank no coffee,  men who had two or three cups a day were 10 percent less likely to die  at any age. For women, it was 13 percent.

    Even a single cup a day  seemed to lower risk a little: 6 percent in men and 5 percent in women.  The strongest effect was in women who had four or five cups a day - a  16 percent lower risk of death.

    None of these are big numbers, though, and Freedman can't say how much extra life coffee might buy.

    "I really can't calculate that," especially because smoking is a key factor that affects longevity at every age, he said.

    Coffee  drinkers were less likely to die from heart or respiratory disease,  stroke, diabetes, injuries, accidents or infections. No effect was seen  on cancer death risk, though.

    Other research ties coffee drinking  to lower levels of markers for inflammation and insulin resistance.  Researchers also considered that people in poor health might refrain  from drinking coffee and whether their abstention could bias the  results. But the study excluded people with cancer and heart disease -  the most common health problems - to minimize this chance. Also, the  strongest benefits of coffee drinking were seen in people who were  healthiest when the study began.

    About two-thirds of study  participants drank regular coffee, and the rest, decaf. The type of  coffee made no difference in the results.

    Hu had this advice for coffee lovers:

    - Watch the sugar and cream. Extra calories and fat could negate any benefits from coffee.

    - Drink filtered coffee rather than boiled - filtering removes compounds that raise LDL, the bad cholesterol.


    From the Cornfield, brew up a pot of your favorite coffee, sit down, relax and enjoy.

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