Coffee gives you much more than just a morning energy boost, say recent studies which point to health benefits that cover you from head to toe. They also show that the more coffee you drink throughout the day, the more health benefits your caffeine fix provides. Here's a rundown of the latest reasons for you to sit, relax, and enjoy another cup of java.
Longevity. Studies show that coffee drinkers live longer than those who don't, and that it offers protection from many of the diseases of aging including cardiovascular, cancer, diabetes, and arthritis. Researchers at Stanford found that inflammation drives the aging process, and that compounds associated with caffeine act as antioxidants and counter metabolites that trigger inflammation. They analyzed the genes of seniors and found that those with the lowest levels of inflammation drank caffeine.
One study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that those who drank five cups of coffee every day had the lowest risk of dying prematurely, and scientists found no long-term health risks.
Liver cancer. Coffee could be an important weapon in the fight against liver cancer, and the more you drink, the lower your risk, says a British study published in BMJ Open. Researchers discovered that drinking one cup of coffee a day cuts the risk of hepatocellular cancer (HCC), the most common form of liver cancer, by 20 percent and two cups drop the risk by 35 percent. But according to the data, five cups of coffee a day slashes your risk in half.
A study published in the journal Hepatology found that coffee also reduces the risk of dying from cirrhosis of the liver by 66 percent in patients whose cirrhosis was caused by non-viral hepatitis.
Dementia. Caffeine may boost an enzyme in the brain that protects against dementia, say researchers from Indiana University. The enzyme, called NMNAT2, reduces the damage caused by harmful Tau proteins in the brain which accumulate due to aging and from brain-destroying plaques.
When researchers gave caffeine to mice modified to produce lower levels of NMNAT2, they began to produce the same levels of the enzyme as normal mice. According to researcher Hui-Chen Lu, substances that increase levels of NMNAT2 in the brain could create a "blockade" against neurological disorders.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration. A Portuguese study found that drinking about 78 milligrams of caffeine daily — about the amount in one shot of espresso — lowered the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the most common cause of blindness in seniors.
The study found that higher consumption of antioxidants such as caffeine, beta-carotene and vitamins C and E, reduced the risk of AMD by 35 percent. "This work is a stepping stone towards effective preventive medicine in AMD," said lead author Rufino Silva, M.D., Ph.D.
Erectile dysfunction. Men who drink two or three cups of coffee every day are less likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction (ED) than men who don't. A study published in PLOS ONE found that men who consume 85 to 170 milligrams of caffeine a day — the amount found in two to three cups of coffee — were 42 percent less likely to have ED than men who consumed zero to seven milligrams a day. Researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston suspect that caffeine triggers a series of events that relaxes arteries in the penis which increases blood flow.
Prostate cancer. An Italian study found that men who drank three cups of Italian-style coffee every day reduced their risk of prostate cancer by 53 percent. The coffee was prepared "Italian Style" using high pressure, very high water temperature, and no filters. The benefit is probably due to the caffeine, but may also be increased due to the method of preparation, say scientists, which could lead to a higher concentration of the helpful bioactive substances.
Melanoma. The more coffee you drink every day, the lower your risk of malignant melanoma, which is the most deadly form of skin cancer. A study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that people who drank four or more cups of coffee daily lowered their risk by 20 percent when compared to those who didn't drink coffee.
Stress. Although many claim caffeine causes the jitters, many people believe a cup of coffee or tea is calming. Scientists from Portugal, the United States, and Brazil gave mice caffeine in their drinking water and then subjected them to stress. Although stress usually quickly causes symptoms such as anxiety and memory problems, caffeine had a calming effect, and most of the usual symptoms didn't develop. Professor Rodrigo Cunha from the University of Coimbra said caffeine blocked a stress-related chemical.
Still more studies found that coffee reduces the risk of diabetes, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and suicide, and helps with weight loss.
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