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NIH study finds that coffee drinkers have lower risk of death
Written by c0ff33   
Mar 05, 2013 at 07:58 AM

Older adults who drank coffee — caffeinated or decaffeinated — had a lower risk of death overall than others who did not drink coffee, according a study by researchers from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health, and AARP.

Coffee drinkers were less likely to die from heart disease, respiratory disease, stroke, injuries and accidents, diabetes, and infections, although the association was not seen for cancer. These results from a large study of older adults were observed after adjustment for the effects of other risk factors on mortality, such as smoking and alcohol consumption. Researchers caution, however, that they can't be sure whether these associations mean that drinking coffee actually makes people live longer. The results of the study were published in the May 17, 2012 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Neal Freedman, Ph.D., Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, NCI, and his colleagues examined the association between coffee drinking and risk of death in 400,000 U.S. men and women ages 50 to 71 who participated in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study. Information about coffee intake was collected once by questionnaire at study entry in 1995-1996. The participants were followed until the date they died or Dec. 31, 2008, whichever came first.

The researchers found that the association between coffee and reduction in risk of death increased with the amount of coffee consumed. Relative to men and women who did not drink coffee, those who consumed three or more cups of coffee per day had approximately a 10 percent lower risk of death. Coffee drinking was not associated with cancer mortality among women, but there was a slight and only marginally statistically significant association of heavier coffee intake with increased risk of cancer death among men.

"Coffee is one of the most widely consumed beverages in America, but the association between coffee consumption and risk of death has been unclear. We found coffee consumption to be associated with lower risk of death overall, and of death from a number of different causes," said Freedman. "Although we cannot infer a causal relationship between coffee drinking and lower risk of death, we believe these results do provide some reassurance that coffee drinking does not adversely affect health."

The investigators caution that coffee intake was assessed by self-report at a single time point and therefore might not reflect long-term patterns of intake. Also, information was not available on how the coffee was prepared (espresso, boiled, filtered, etc.); the researchers consider it possible that preparation methods may affect the levels of any protective components in coffee.

"The mechanism by which coffee protects against risk of death — if indeed the finding reflects a causal relationship — is not clear, because coffee contains more than 1,000 compounds that might potentially affect health," said Freedman. "The most studied compound is caffeine, although our findings were similar in those who reported the majority of their coffee intake to be caffeinated or decaffeinated."

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) leads the National Cancer Program and the NIH effort to dramatically reduce the burden of cancer and improve the lives of cancer patients and their families, through research into prevention and cancer biology, the development of new interventions, and the training and mentoring of new researchers. For more information about cancer, please visit the NCI Web site at http://www.cancer.gov or call NCI's Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237).

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit http://www.nih.gov.


Nepal farmers brew success with coffee cultivation
Written by c0ff33   
Mar 01, 2013 at 01:04 PM

Coffee, for many of us, is a daily fix. But few would relate to it as being a life changer.

However, for Hom Raj Giri, a farmer in Nepal, that is exactly what coffee has been.

For decades, Mr Giri, like many other Nepalese farmers, was struggling to make money out of his farm. That was until he was introduced to the world of coffee farming.

"I earn three times more income from coffee than by cultivating millet and maize," Mr Giri tells the BBC at his farm located in the picturesque Khavre district in central Nepal.

He talks enthusiastically about coffee as he shows me around his farm where other members of his family are busy washing and drying the harvested coffee beans.

"It doesn't require any fertiliser. The wholesalers come to our home to buy coffee beans, which means you don't need to take it to market by yourself," he adds.

Growing popularity

Traditionally, farmers in Mr Giri's district cultivated maize and millet. But the proceeds from those crops were not enough to meet the rising living costs.

In an attempt to help the farmers boost their earnings, the government, along with various agencies, urged them to take up coffee farming.

While the farmers were initially sceptical about the commodity, higher returns have seen their mindset change over the years.

According to official figures, Nepal now has 1,700 hectares of coffee plantation, more than 10 times the area 20 years ago, when coffee cultivation started picking up.

Coffee is now being cultivated in 25 districts in the country and last year, Nepal exported about 400 tonnes of coffee beans - 30 times what was produced two decades ago.

That is 86 million Nepal rupees ($1m; £650,000) worth of shipments.

Further growth?

While that number pales in comparison to coffee exports from other Asian nations such as Vietnam and India, many here believe that the potential for growth of Nepal's exports is enormous.

"Nepalese coffee is different from other countries. We only produce Arabica type of coffee which is organic," says Raman Prasad Pathak, executive director of National Tea and Coffee Development Board.

Mr Pathak adds that Nepal's mountainous terrain also makes it an ideal place to cultivate coffee.

"Large tracts of hilly regions of Nepal, which are 800m to 1,600m, above the sea level are empty. This is ideal for coffee cultivation," he says. "Farmers can get additional income from these empty lands."

Coffee cultivation has become popular among Nepalese farmers over the years

According to Fairtrade, an estimated 1.6 billion cups of coffee are drunk worldwide every day and global coffee consumption has almost doubled in the past 40 years.

At the moment, Nepal exports coffee mostly to countries such as South Korea, Japan, Britain and the US.

The hope is that as Nepalese-grown coffee becomes popular in other countries, demand will rise further and boost earnings of the sector which now employs more than 26,000 people.

However, some argue that Nepal should not try and become a mass producer of coffee, but instead concentrate on creating a niche market.

"As far as mass production is concerned we don't have a single farm that's producing quantities that are sufficient for a large chain overseas," says Anand Gurung, who owns Himalayan Java cafe in Kathmandu.

"But what we can do is form a niche for ourselves, especially when everyone is going into an organic-producing crop."

Mr Gurung says that by creating a unique product Nepalese farmers will also be able to command a higher price for their crop.

Domestic boost

Nepal's coffee farmers have also got a boost from growing demand for the commodity at home.

Hundreds of coffee cafes have sprung up in the capital Kathmandu and other big cities frequented by tourists.

A rise in coffee cafes in Nepal has resulted in an increased demand for the commodity

"This has been a tea-growing nation, but now we are selling lattes and cappuccinos, which are very synonymous with tea," says Mr Gurung.

"We started as a single independent store and now we have nine different outlets. Opening those outlets has created a demand for more coffee shops," he says.

Mr Gurung, like many other cafe owners, buys coffee beans grown only in Nepal.

And with demand for coffee rising at home and in neighbouring China and India, Nepalese coffee farmers hope to brew up strong profits well into the future.


Is coffee helpful or harmful?
Written by c0ff33   
Feb 28, 2013 at 09:25 AM

Coffee contains a surprising amount of antioxidants but jitter-inducing caffeine. We offer the final call on its health benefits.

Pros: Pour yourself a cuppa!

Java energizes. It makes us alert and awake and helps us concentrate. About 50 per cent of North Americans report feeling happy after drinking it — and more women than men get the boost.

Coffee’s ubiquitous: Most North Americans drink about two cups a day. Fortunately, it’s also loaded with minerals — it’s our number one source of antioxidants, surpassing even leafy greens.

The caffeine in coffee can help reduce our risk of cardiovascular disease, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and liver disease, says Ahmed El-Sohemy, coffee expert and associate professor at the University of Toronto’s department of nutritional sciences.

Coffee is more than just caffeine. Decaffeinated coffee has a tenth of the caffeine in regular brews, but, studies show it lowers our risk of type 2 diabetes, the disease associated with North America’s obesity epidemic.

It’s also a diet-friendly drink: With only two to five calories per cup, coffee’s practically guilt-free. Just hold off on the sugar and cream, and avoid calorie-packed, high-end flavoured coffees, says registered dietitian Daniella Wolf.

Cons: Walk past that café.

Caffeine can make you an anxious insomniac. A stimulant, it interferes with a chemical in our brain that under normal circumstances, slows our heart beat, relaxes arteries, decreases blood pressure and makes us sleepy.

About 50 per cent of the population is genetically predisposed to having problems metabolizing caffeine. If those people have more than three or four cups a day, they increase their risk of heart attack and hypertension by 30 to 50 per cent, says El-Sohemy.

Health Canada recommends pregnant women drink no more than 300 milligrams of coffee a day (about two eight-ounce cups). Exceeding that amount increases the risk of having low birth weight infants.

It can also impair your ability to absorb calcium, increasing your risk of osteoporosis.

In rare cases, drinking too much coffee can bring on irrational and erratic behaviour, known as caffeine-induced psychosis.

Many people are worried they’re addicted to caffeine, and about 30 per cent of regular coffee drinkers suddenly forced to go without will get bad headaches, become irritable, nauseous, drowsy and fatigued. But there’s no such thing as “coffee addiction” — while people want it, they don’t need it as badly as an addict would crave a fix. Symptoms typically abate within two weeks.

Bottom Line

Grab that mug: a couple cups of coffee a day can’t hurt and most people will actually benefit from a daily dose.

Health Canada recommends healthy people limit their caffeine intake to 400 milligrams per day. But take heed: Wolf warns that small coffees are typically larger than eight ounces, and their caffeine content depends on the brew.

A 12-ounce Starbucks “tall” brewed coffee has 260 milligrams of caffeine, while a small 10-ounce Tim Hortons coffee has 100 milligrams. A 16-ounce Starbucks venti has 415 milligrams — more than the daily recommendation.

“And don’t forget, there’s caffeine in other things we eat and drink too, like tea and chocolate cake,” Wolf says.

She recommends a skinny latte, which has 75 milligrams of caffeine and some calcium too.

Or, El-Sohemy says, you can always drink decaf. If you’re dead set on caffeine and staying within Health Canada’s limits still makes your “heart race and hands shake,” says El-Sohemy, “cut back. Finding the right amount for you is trial and error.”


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