Life Extension Magazine August 2013
New Findings on Coffee’s Cardiovascular Benefits
By Julia Pace
Although research into other cancers and their association with coffee drinking is less detailed, the available evidence is still encouraging. Take a look:
- Studies reveal a decrease in the risk of endometrial cancer of up to 39% in women drinking at least 1 to 2 cups/day, and 62% in women drinking 3 or more cups/day.35, 36
- The risk of localized esophageal cancer was reduced by 60% among coffee drinkers in one study.37
- People with either hepatitis B or C infections or both (a high-risk population), who drink at least 3 cups of coffee daily reduce their risk of developing liver cancer by up to 39%.38
- Even those without such viral infections have a 44% lower risk of developing hepataocellular carcinoma, the most common liver cancer, when they drink 3 or more cups/day.39
- And the risk of localized prostate cancer has now been shown to decrease by 3% per cup of coffee per day, with higher risk reductions among overweight or obese men.40
Neurodegenerative Diseases Yield to Coffee
Neurodegenerative diseases in the US are rising at an alarming rate. A study published in April 2013 in the New England Journal of Medicine found that nearly 15% of Americans older than 70 suffer from dementia.41 The total monetary costs of dementia in the US as a whole is around $215 billion per year.
There’s now very strong epidemiological evidence that people who drink more coffee are protected against developing Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, the most common forms of dementia.42-44 Studies show that coffee consumption lowers the risk for Parkinson’s by up to 74% and cuts the risk of Alzheimer’s and general cognitive decline by up to 51%.45-49
Animal studies reveal some of the basic mechanisms behind this powerful protection. One of the most important ways coffee produces this effect is by preventing type II diabetes. Since diabetes is a known risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s, preventing diabetes ultimately helps prevent Alzheimer’s. One study showed that decaffeinated green coffee improved insulin sensitivity and improved brain energy metabolism, both important factors in Alzheimer’s disease prevention.50
Caffeine appears to be one of the most important components of coffee that is responsible for this dramatic risk reduction. For example, when mice that were engineered to be at high risk for Alzheimer’s disease were given caffeine, they were protected from cognitive impairment.51 This protective effect was also seen in older mice that were already showing signs of cognitive impairment from Alzheimer’s, demonstrating an actual reversal of cognitive impairment and improvement in learning and memory.52
Caffeine also reduces both brain and plasma levels of the toxic Abeta protein (sometimes called the “Alzheimer’s protein” because it’s found in such high concentrations in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients).51-53 Remarkably, in both mice and humans, a single dose of caffeine (equivalent to 5 cups of coffee/day) quickly reduced both brain and plasma levels of toxic Abeta protein.43 This finding may represent the first true disease-modifying treatment of Alzheimer’s. (Current drug therapies can only reduce symptoms; they don’t produce changes in the disease process itself.)
But other components of coffee in addition to caffeine are essential and have been shown to work synergistically with caffeine to protect brain health and function, which means you can’t simply take caffeine pills (a bad idea for many reasons). One study demonstrated this dramatically: only caffeinated coffee—and neither caffeine alone nor decaffeinated coffee—protected against Alzheimer’s.54 Similarly, crude caffeine (a byproduct of coffee decaffeination that still retains non-caffeine components) but not caffeine itself, reduced Abeta levels and microscopic damage to brain memory centers. 55
Chlorogenic acid, a major non-caffeine coffee constituent, protected animals against chemically induced memory impairment—and also reversed cognitive impairments. 56 And eicosanoyl-5-hydroxytryptamide, another coffee component, has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities that can protect against Parkinson’s disease in animal models.57
Coffee has undergone a dramatic scientific rehabilitation in the past decade, going from feared pariah to welcome ally in the quest for better health and longer life.
New studies provide dramatic insight into coffee’s health-giving benefits, with a special focus on its role in improving endothelial function, the mechanisms by which blood vessels retain their control over blood flow and pressure. By improving endothelial function, coffee can reduce your risk for stroke and heart attack.
Other benefits include a reduced risk for developing diabetes, cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases.
Protect yourself from the ravages of aging. Enjoy that next cup of coffee secure in the knowledge that you are not only producing no harm, but in fact are helping your body fend off some of the most dreaded consequences of aging.
If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Health Advisor at 1-866-864-3027.
Caution: Caffeine consumption can transiently increase blood pressure and heart rate, though most individuals who regularly consume caffeine develop tolerance to these effects. Nevertheless, in very sensitive individuals, caffeine consumption can increase blood pressure significantly (e.g.10 mmHg or more). Caffeine appears to have a more pronounced blood pressure effect on overweight people older than age 70 years.87 To see if caffeine may be raising your blood pressure, check your blood pressure within 30 to 60 minutes of drinking a cup of caffeinated coffee or another caffeinated beverage. If your blood pressure increases by 10 mmHg or more, you may be sensitive to the blood pressure raising effects of caffeine and may want to cut down on caffeine consumption and substitute decaffeinated coffee.