Expert reaction from to two studies looking at coffee consumption and risk of death

Two studies publishing in the Annals of Internal Medicine assess the association between higher coffee consumption and reduced risk of death | Science Media Centre

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Dr Tim Chico, Reader in Cardiovascular Medicine / consultant cardiologist, University of Sheffield, said:

“These two studies followed many thousands of people for 16 years and compared death rates in coffee drinkers with non-coffee drinkers.  In keeping with previous studies, death rates were slightly lower in coffee drinkers than in non-coffee drinkers.

“The studies were well conducted and have the advantage of having observed thousands of people from many different countries and ethnic backgrounds, and the association between coffee drinking and mortality seems to be the same across all these populations.

“The authors of both studies are commendably cautious about whether or not coffee drinking is the cause of the reduced mortality in coffee drinkers, or whether there are other unknown differences between coffee drinkers and non-coffee drinkers that are the real cause for the differences observed.  Neither study seems to take into account the income of the people involved (although they do adjust for educational level) and since coffee isn’t cheap it is possible that non-coffee drinkers are less well off, which would be a potential explanation for some of the differences seen.

“What can we conclude from these studies?  The authors of both papers sensibly go no further than concluding that their results show that coffee drinking is not harmful.  I’m occasionally asked by patients whether they should drink coffee and these studies will help in advising them that coffee drinking is safe.

“The only way to be certain whether or not coffee might make people live longer is to force many thousands of people to drink it regularly, while preventing many thousands of otherwise similar people to never drink coffee.  A study like this is never going to take place, so we may never know the answer to this question.

“I don’t think this study should lead anyone to drink more coffee in search of a health benefit that might not actually exist.  It is useful to compare this to the proven benefits of physical activity.  A 20-min walk to a local coffee shop will definitely provide many health benefits, even if you don’t actually go in and buy anything.”

Eggs can significantly increase growth in young children

Eggs significantly increased growth and reduced stunting by 47 percent in young children, finds a new study from a leading expert on child nutrition | ScienceDaily

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Eggs significantly increased growth and reduced stunting by 47 percent in young children, finds a new study from a leading expert on child nutrition at the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis. This was a much greater effect than had been shown in previous studies.

Eggs were shown to increase standardized length-for-age score and weight-for-age score. Models indicated a reduced prevalence of stunting by 47 percent and underweight by 74 percent. Children in the treatment group had higher dietary intakes of eggs and reduced intake of sugar-sweetened foods compared to control.

Starving prostate cancer with what you eat: Apple peels, red grapes, turmeric

New research from The University of Texas at Austin identifies several natural compounds found in food, including turmeric, apple peels and red grapes, as key ingredients that could thwart the growth of prostate cancer | ScienceDaily

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The new paper uses a novel analytical approach to screen numerous plant-based chemicals instead of testing a single agent as many studies do, discovering specific combinations that shrink prostate cancer tumors.

The researchers first tested 142 natural compounds on mouse and human cell lines to see which inhibited prostate cancer cell growth when administered alone or in combination with another nutrient. The most promising active ingredients were then tested on model animals: ursolic acid, a waxy natural chemical found in apple peels and rosemary; curcumin, the bright yellow plant compound in turmeric; and resveratrol, a natural compound common to red grapes or berries.

Diet, nutrition, physical activity and breast cancer

The report analysed 119 studies and including data on 12 million women and 260,000 cases of breast cancer | World Cancer Research Fund

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Image source: WCRF

Many epidemiologic studies have classified breast cancer cases by menopausal status at time of diagnosis, and therefore in this report we chose to highlight associations between diet, weight, and physical activity separately in premenopausal and postmenopausal breast cancer, where possible.

Key findings: premenopausal breast cancer

There is strong evidence that:

  • consuming alcoholic drinks increases risk
  • undertaking vigorous physical activity decreases risk
  • being overweight or obese between the ages of about 18 and 30 years decreases risk
  • being overweight or obese in adulthood before the menopause decreases risk
  • developmental factors leading to greater linear growth (marked by adult attained height) increase risk
  • factors that lead to greater birthweight, or its consequences, increase risk
  • breastfeeding decreases risk (breast cancer type unspecified) in the mother
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Image Source: WCRF

Key findings: postmenopausal breast cancer

There is strong evidence that:

  • consuming alcoholic drinks increases risk
  • being physically active (including vigorous physical activity) decreases risk
  • being overweight or obese between the ages of about 18 and 30 years decreases risk
  • being overweight or obese throughout adulthood increases risk
  • greater weight gain in adulthood increases risk
  • developmental factors leading to greater linear growth (marked by adult attained height) increase risk
  • breastfeeding decreases risk (breast cancer type unspecified) in the mother
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Image source: WCRF

The association between an inflammatory diet, cognitive function and dementia

The Mediterranean and Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diets have been associated with lower dementia risk. We evaluated dietary inflammatory potential in relation to mild cognitive impairment (MCI)/dementia risk | Alzheimer’s & Dementia

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Method: Baseline food frequency questionnaires from n = 7085 women (aged 65–79 years) were used to calculate Dietary Inflammatory Index (DII) scores that were categorized into four groups. Cognitive function was evaluated annually, and MCI and all-cause dementia cases were adjudicated centrally. Mixed effect models evaluated cognitive decline on over time; Cox models evaluated the risk of MCI or dementia across DII groups.

Results: Over an average of 9.7 years, there were 1081 incident cases of cognitive impairment. Higher DII scores were associated with greater cognitive decline and earlier onset of cognitive impairment. Adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) comparing lower (anti-inflammatory; group 1 referent) DII scores to the higher scores were group 2-HR: 1.01 (0.86–1.20); group 3-HR: 0.99 (0.82–1.18); and group 4-HR: 1.27 (1.06–1.52).

Conclusions: Diets with the highest pro-inflammatory potential were associated with higher risk of MCI or dementia.

Full reference: Hayden, K.M. et al. (2017) The association between an inflammatory diet and global cognitive function and incident dementia in older women: The Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study. Alzheimer’s & Dementia. Published online: May 19 2017

Managing the fussy eater

At some point in time most parents will describe their child as a ‘fussy eater’ | Paediatrics and Child Health

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Because fussiness is not well defined and can, of course, be very subjective, it is sometimes difficult to estimate the prevalence of real ‘fussy’ eating. It is best described as food refusal above and beyond the expected norm, but because different questionnaires measuring different constructs are given to parents of children of a range of ages, the best we can do is to come up with an estimate of around 30% of children being described as truly ‘fussy’.

Full reference: Harris, G. (2017) Managing the fussy eater. Paediatrics and Child Health. Published online: May 19, 2017

‘Pro-vegetarian’ diet could halve chance of obesity

Study describes benefits of the ‘flexitarian’ diet: basically vegetarian, with meat and fish consumed occasionally | The Guardian Health

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A diet which reduces or even excludes meat and animal produce in favour of vegetables, fruit and grains could halve people’s chances of becoming obese, according to new research.

A study carried out in Spain describes the benefits of what researchers call a “pro-vegetarian” diet which does not exclude meat and dairy products but reduces them. It has also been called a “flexitarian” diet – basically vegetarian, with meat and fish consumed occasionally.

Some 16,000 university graduates were tracked from 1999 for 10 years, by which time 584 were obese, according to findings presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Porto, Portugal.

Read the full news story here