Don't leave your coffee cup sitting at the breakfast table. Coffee isn't just for breakfast anymore as studies pile up showing that coffee is good for you, and the more you drink, the lower your odds of many diseases, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer.
The latest study from the University of Southern California confirms earlier research that discovered coffee decreases the risk of colorectal cancer. Dr. Stephen Gruber and colleagues found that one to two cups a day lowered risk by 26 percent, and those who drank more than two-and-a-half cups a day slashed their risk up to 50 percent. "The more coffee consumed, the lower the risk," he said.
Coffee lowered cancer risk regardless of whether it was filtered, boiled (espresso), instant, or decaffeinated. "This indicates that caffeine alone is not responsible for coffee's protective properties," said Dr. Gruber.
Check out the other ways coffee can improve your health:
Cancer: Rather than asking what types of cancer coffee helps prevent, the better question might be what types of cancer does coffee not help prevent:
• Breast: Breast cancer survivors who drank two cups of coffee daily and were also taking the cancer-fighting drug tamoxifen had half the breast cancer recurrences when compared to women who didn't drink coffee. Experts theorize that coffee makes the drug more efficient.
• Prostate: Men who drank at least four cups of coffee daily lowered their risk of recurring prostate cancer by 59 percent, according to a study at Seattle's Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
• Endometrial: Women who drank four or more cups daily cut their risk of endometrial cancer by 25 percent, according to the American Association for Cancer Research.
• Liver: Numerous studies have found that coffee reduces the risk of liver cancer up to 40 percent, and others show that those with a serious coffee habit — four or more cups a day — reduce their risk of cirrhosis, which can lead to liver cancer, up to 80 percent.
Alzheimer's: Several studies show that coffee can at least slow the onset of Alzheimer's disease. Scientists from the University of Miami and the University of South Florida studied patients aged 65 to 88 who had mild cognitive impairment (MCI). They found that 100 percent of patients who had high levels of caffeine in their blood the equivalent of drinking several cups a day did not develop full-blown Alzheimer's during the follow-up that lasted up to four years.
"These intriguing results suggest that older adults with mild memory impairment who drink moderate levels of coffee — about three cups a day — will not convert to Alzheimer’s disease — or at least they will experience a substantial delay before converting to Alzheimer’s," said the study lead author, neuroscientist Dr. Chuanhai Cao.
Another study found that drinking three to five cups of coffee a day lowered the risk of Alzheimer's by 65 percent.
Heart: An analysis of 36 studies involving more than 1,270,000 people published in the journal Circulation, found that those who drank three to five cups of coffee daily had the lowest risk of cardiovascular disease. Another study, this one presented at a meeting of the European Society of Cardiology, found that drinking three to five cups of coffee every day lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) by up to 21 percent.
A Johns Hopkins study published in the journal Heart found that young adults who drank three to five cups of coffee daily didn't have as many calcium deposits in their arteries, which are an indicator of heart disease.
Parkinson's: Parkinson’s patients with symptoms of motor impairment and daytime sleepiness were given either a placebo or a pill with 100 milligrams of caffeine two times a day for three weeks. The dose was then increased to 200 milligrams twice a day for three weeks, which was the equivalent of between two and four cups of coffee per day. According to an article published in the journal Neurology, after six weeks, patients taking the caffeine supplement showed improvement controlling their movements as well as their speed of movement and amount of stiffness.
A study of Japanese Americans living in Hawaii found those who drank more than four cups of coffee daily reduced their risk fivefold.
Depression: A study of more than 50,000 women published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that those who drink at least four cups of coffee a day reduced their risk of depression by 20 percent compared to those who shunned coffee. Make sure it's caffeinated — decaf doesn't offer the same benefits.
Other studies have found that coffee also lowers the risk of suicide. A Harvard study found that women who drank four cups a day lowered their risk by 58 percent.
Researchers believe caffeine increases the production of specific neurotransmitters in the brain associated with mood, including serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline .
Type 2 diabetes: People who drink four or more cups of coffee throughout the day cut their risk of Type 2 diabetes by 50 percent, according to a study published in the American Chemical Society's Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry. Although the mechanism is unknown, some researchers believe the healthy benefits could be due to antioxidants and magnesium found in coffee. Others speculate that that coffee may block a faulty substance (human islet amyloid polypeptide or hIAPP) that has been accused of causing Type 2 diabetes.
Eye disease: Cornell University research found that coffee protects eyes from retinal degeneration due to glaucoma, aging, and diabetes. Coffee contains 7 percent to 9 percent chlorogenic acid (CLA), a powerful antioxidant. In mice treated with nitric oxide, a toxin that creates sight-damaging free radicals, those that were pretreated with CLA didn't develop retinal damage.
Last of all, in general, coffee might keep the grim reaper at bay. A study of more than 400,000 Americans published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that those who drank two to three cups of coffee a day had a 10 to 15 percent lower risk of dying in the next 13 years than those who drank no coffee.
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