BioQuakes

AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Tag: cups of coffee

ANOTHER new study on Coffee

As students in high school, many of us are familiar with the immediate advantage of drinking coffee which is a decrease in fatigue and increase of alertness. Since I was young, however, I have heard many myths and hypotheses about the bad side effect of coffee, like how it stunts your growth and stains your teeth. I have also heard of other, positive side effect of drinking coffee. Some articles have said that caffeine has some positive effects against some diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimers. Multiple studies and published articles have come up throughout the years on the various side effects of drinking coffee daily and whether or not it is good or bad for you. An article published on sciencenews.org explains the most recent research on this mysterious drink and its long term effects on us humans, while another article argues its bad effects.

This article describes a study and analysis of more than 200,000 professionals followed for almost 30 years. They concluded that drinking up to five cups of either decaf or caffeinated coffee a day has a strong correlation to reduced risk of early death from heart and brain diseases as well as suicide. This study had even accounted for lurking variables such as smoking, weight, and diet. By adjusting for these factors, the scientists discovered that the benefits were more pronounced for non-smokers. They also found that both decaf. and caffeinated coffee were had positive effects. This led the researchers to believe that the powerful components of coffee may stem from chemical compounds in the bean such as diterpenes and chlorogenic acids.

Another article I came across mentioned the known positive, as well as the harmful effects of caffeine. (On a side note, I find it relevant to point out that this article mentioned that studies proving harmful effects of caffeine are harder to find that the reported positive effects. This, I speculate, might have to do a little bit with the fact that people tend to want to hear reassurance on things that will permit them to continue on with habits or actions that might be seen as harmful or bad otherwise.) This website cited studies that were performed by the Mayo Clinic that found that coffee raised blood pressure, increased risk of heart attacks, caused headaches, reduced fertility in women, proved harmful to people with type 2 diabetes, worsened menopause symptoms, increased anxiety, and, most obviously, caused insomnia and more. Some of these correlations, like an increase in headaches due to drinking coffee, can be explained by obvious reasoning: caffeine is a diuretic, and therefore if you aren’t drinking enough water to compensate, your body will produce too much urine and you will become dehydrated which leads to headaches in some cases.

Because of this drug’s popularity, studies after studies have come out presenting new, or sometimes repetitive, information regarding the side effects of drinking coffee. Many people want to believe that it is good for them because they drink it on such a regular basis that if it proved to be very harmful they would be in real trouble. Therefore, people are looking for proof that it is good, so there are more articles, credible and not, showing proof that it is. Additionally, another potential issue with these studies is the amount of caffeine given to the patients. In study one, the subjects were given around 5 cups of coffee a day, which is 2 to 3 more than the average American, and therefore unrepresentative of what Americans actually consume. From this data, I have decided to continue drinking the relatively small amount of coffee I do on a weekly basis, paying attention to how my own body reacts and noting the changes with attention in order to learn more about how it affects me personally, as I feel I am the only reliable source of information to myself at the moment.

Your Morning Coffee Can Weaken Your Vision?!

We all love that energizing cup of fresh coffee to start the day, but can too much lead to Glaucoma?

Cup of Coffee

Will you sacrifice your morning cups of coffee to save your eyesight? Photographer: Ian Britton, http://www.freefoto.com/preview/09-16-72/Cup-of-Coffee

The Harvard School of Public Health observed that Scandanavian countries consume the most amount of coffee in the world and also have the highest rates of Exfoliation Glaucoma (EG). Harvard researchers suspected a link between coffee and EG and proceeded to conduct a study. They took 78,900 women and 41,202 men who initially had no signs of glaucoma and had undergone eye exams between 1980 and 2008 and had them answer a questionnaire of how much coffee they drank each day.

The researchers then looked at their medical records to see if there was any evidence of EG present. Those that drank more than 3 cups of coffee a day, compared to those who didn’t drink any coffee at all, showed elementary signs of EG (fibrous material on lens, high pressure on optic nerve, build up of fluid in the eye) and had a 66% increased chance of developing EG. It’s peculiar how the link was only seen with coffee, not other caffeinated products such as soda, chocolate etc.

A question to ask yourself: will this really change the amount of coffee I drink everyday? Given the benefits of coffee: “decreased chance of developing hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol” does the possibility of developing EG balance out with the health benefits of coffee? I think it’s fair to say that you should and can drink less than three cups a day to stay on the safe side. Besides, isn’t 2 1/2 cups enough to satisfy your craving, support your health and still minimize your chance of developing EG?

For more information you can visit: “Coffee Might Raise Glaucoma Risk: Study” (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_129935.html)

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