January 9 , 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 55  

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Coffee has medical benefits: study

By Sarvenaz Kermanshahi
Gazette Staff
Matt Prince/Gazette
JUST WHAT WE NEED: THE TIM HORTONS LINE TO GET LONGER! A study done at the Harvard School of Health shows that good ol’ coffee isn’t as bad as people may think.

A study published Jan. 6 in the Annals of Internal Medicine suggests six cups of coffee a day will keep the doctor away.

The study, conducted with 120,000 participants over a 12 to 18 year period, showed subjects who consumed significant amounts of the good ol’ brew had a lower risk of developing type two diabetes. In fact, intake levels as low as one cup per day were shown to have positive effects.

“We found that increased coffee consumption is associated with a decrease in the risk of developing diabetes,” said Frank Hu, co-author of the study and associate professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health.

“For men, six cups a day showed a 50 per cent decrease in risk and for women, 30 per cent,” he said.

Hu and his colleagues were prompted to conduct the study when findings of a similar nature were reported within the Dutch population.

Coffee has also been credited with decreasing the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, diseases of the gallbladder and according to some studies, colon cancer.

Hu does not recommend that everyone indulge: “The results are interesting, and may open doors for further research. However, we know that maintaining a healthy body weight and exercise are the most effective means of preventing diabetes,” he said.

It is not known which of the hundreds of compounds in coffee is responsible for preventing diabetes, Hu said. “We believe it could be a combination of caffeine and other compounds, such as antioxidants.”

Other caffeinated beverages, such as soda and tea, have not shown the same benefits, while decaffeinated coffee has shown some promise.

“The perception of coffee as detrimental to health is not based on scientific evidence,” Hu stated. He said he did not know what implications, if any, the findings would have for the coffee industry.

Some coffee lovers were delighted with the findings. “I have a history of diabetes in my family, and I have about two cups a day, so its good news,” said first-year administrative and commercial studies student Lauren Brandon.

“Everything in moderation is the key with any substance,” said Cindy Lalonde, supervisor at William’s Coffee Pub in the University Community Centre. Other William’s employees were quick to point out another java perk: “When coffee is made with love it’s all good, and we love our students,” they said.



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