Life is Tough

Wednesday, June 13, 2012
By Wolfgang K Piller MD

It does not seem that I am able to resist the subject of coffee at present and I have good and bad news for coffee lovers: you die younger, but not because of the coffee, but because coffee drinkers are more likely to have other unhealthy habits. The NIH-AARP Diet & Health Study which followed 400,000 people over 13 years has shown, that coffee drinkers are more likely to die, because they are more likely to smoke, drink alcohol, do little exercise and abstain from fruit and veg consumption.

Coffee drinkers with an otherwise healthy lifestyle however were less likely to die, particularly of heart and respiratory disease, diabetes, stroke, infections, injuries and accidents than drinkers of other beverages. To keep it that way you can still help me keep our coffee pickers in Nicaragua healthy by supporting my 6 week deployment: Donations: Account (Konto) 488 888 0, Sorting code (BLZ) 520 604 10, EKK Bank, Germany. IBAN: DE12 5206 0410 0004 8888 80, BIC: GENODEF1EK1, code word Spain, or in ‘La Clinica,’ Almuñécar International Clinic, Paseo del Altillo 4, Almuñécar.

Another risk factor for coffee drinkers is the above average consumption of red meat: 120,000 people were studied and adjusting the results according to other risk factors it is claimed, that 7.6 % of women and 9.3% of men would not have died, if they would have eaten less than 45g of meat or 25g of processed meat a day. (It is however unknown whether further increased coffee consumption lowers the risk of red meat consumption.)

This study created already more than 150 publications like Coffee, tea soda and caffeine intake in relation to risk of adult glioma… or Diabetes and thyroid cancer risk… I find this an odd situation, because one study design does not fit all needs; health in general and disease in particular are two different entities altogether. Fortunately most of those studies never made it to the headlines, or do you know many people with glioma or thyroid cancer?

I also did not hear a lot about the British Journal of Cancer report (6 December 2011, 92 pages!) that calculated that 40% of cancers could be avoided due to better lifestyle choices. The number 1 of choices of course is not smoking (a staggering 23%), followed by a lack of exercise, fibre, fruit and veg, obesity and excess alcohol, meat and salt intake, in other words the BOB (= big old bore). We have heard this often enough, but the interesting fact is, that not a single supplement or pill has been mentioned as an avoidance strategy for one of those illnesses! However bribing children into making healthy eating choices seems to become acceptable again; according to latest research it does work after all. In Psychological Science it is reported, that little bribes are effective for encouraging healthier eating choices, however the bribes must not be unhealthy foods. Kind of logical, isn’t it, or do you find a chocolate bar after a day’s fast an acceptable reward?

However, the big question remains unanswered for such a tea drinking nation like the English: does drinking tea procure a health benefit? Well, I did not find any definite evidence, but in an article of Harvard Medical School of 2004 I found advice worthwhile to follow: ‘tea can impede the absorption of iron from fruits and vegetables. Adding lemon or milk or drinking tea between meals will counteract this problem.’

Isn’t it just wonderful to live in a world paying so much attention to the detail?

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