DoctorSolve January 2012 Healthletter Edition                                                 (If you cannot read this, click here)
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Hello again,

With the new year now here we have to stay on top of our heath. In this issue we will discuss the link between both drinking coffee and prostate cancer. To know more about this read below.

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  • Drinking Coffee and Prostate Cancer: What You Need to Know
  • The Age Old Dilemma: To Drink or Not To Dink?

Drinking Coffee and Prostate Cancer - What You Need to Know

coffee

If you’re a man, chances are by now you’ve heard of prostate cancer—the frequency of occurrence, the possible sexual dysfunction, the pain, the dangers—the bad, and the worse. New research, however, is shedding some new light on diet and how it contributes to the frequency of this brutal disease. If you find yourself amongst the men at risk for prostate cancer, know that there is some good news to be heard, especially if you happen to like coffee.

Prostate cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in men, affecting one-in-six men, but most commonly found in men over fifty. Prostate cancer can often be asymptomatic (showing no symptoms). The more aggressive forms account for a higher death rate than any other cancer except lung cancer. Two-thirds of cases are slow growing, whereas the other third is more aggressive and fast developing. In other words, for older men at least, you might not know you have it, and if you have it, there’s a one-third chance you have the aggressive form, and if you have the aggressive form, well, that’s not the kind that you want.

So, if you are you at a slight unease, or even downright scared as to the possibility of contracting prostate cancer, know that that effective action to protect yourself can be found in something as common as a pot of French Roast. That’s right; coffee has shown to have a legitimate counter-effect against this highly dangerous form of cancer.

In a Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, 48,000 men were observed for more than 20 years. During that period, more than 5000 were diagnosed with prostate cancer and nearly 650 died or had metastatic disease.

When questioned about their coffee consumption, the findings were significant. Men who drank the most coffee, 6 or more cups a day, had a nearly 20% lower risk of overall developing prostate cancer, and had a 60% lower risk of developing lethal (metastatic or fatal) prostate cancer. If you’re wondering if there is some sort of threshold point to achieve the benefits, the answer seems to be no; even moderate drinkers seemed to confer some protection. Men who drank 1-3 cups daily still gained benefits, with a 30% lower risk for lethal prostate cancer.

This comes as less of a surprise to coffee proponents. A couple cups of java have been linked to a lowered risk for other diseases such as type-2 diabetes, Parkinson’s, liver cancer, and gallstones. The reason for this may be because coffee contains antioxidants that reduce inflammation; and some of these antioxidants have already been associated, individually, with a lower risk for advanced prostate cancer.

Be wary of drinking too much coffee, however, as chronic coffee drinking also runs the risk of raising cortisol levels by around 30% per cup. Elevated cortisol levels mean a chronic lack of testosterone, which can lead to fatigue and weight gain. That said, testosterone is thought to play a factor in the initial development of prostate cancer, so this relationship is in need of further research and clarification.

Until the science sheds some light on the answers many males, especially in the West, would be inclined to know more about prostate cancer—most especially about a cure— it may serve dividends for a man in his fifties or over, if not currently, to work a cup of coffee into his diet—or six.

 

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The Age Old Dilemma: To Drink or Not To Drink?

beer

Conflicting studies are always being published about alcohol. Does alcohol have health benefits? Or, is that a myth, and does alcohol actually result in more health issues than benefits? One of the latest studies into liquor and breast cancer, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, suggests that women at risk for breast cancer should lay off the alcohol.

The study defines light to moderate drinking as three to six drinks of alcohol a week. (A drink is defined as 12 ounces (355 mL) of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces (44 mL) of 80-proof distilled spirits.) The study followed 106,000 women from 1980 to 2008, and for moderate to low levels of drinking, the group saw a small (15%) increase in the risk of developing breast cancer.

Nonetheless, health experts such as Steven Narod, a doctor at the Women’s College Research Institute in Toronto state, “there is no data to provide assurance that giving up alcohol will reduce breast cancer risk,” warning to not take the results at point-blank without some personal thought.

The medical community basically agrees that red wine is beneficial for heart health because of one key ingredient: resveratrol. Resveratrol helps prevent damage to blood vessels by reducing “bad” cholesterol. (For more information, visit http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/red-wine/HB00089). On the other hand, it is a bit unclear about how much wine a person would need to drink to get the benefits of resveratrol; some claim that one would need to drink 60 liters of wine to get the benefits. It is also unclear whether red wine is the sole alcohol to improve heart health, or whether other forms of alcohol, such as beer or spirits, are actually beneficial too.

Of course, all alcohol studies boil down to the following dilemma: how do you ensure that someone drinks in moderation? Alcohol is both addictive and damaging to the body if consumed in high quantities. Drinking too much increases your risk of high blood pressure, high triglycerides, liver damage, obesity, certain types of cancer, and other problems. Furthermore, drinking too much can also cause heart failure in some people!

The current findings suggest that alcohol intake may not increase the risk of all-cause mortality, only breast cancer deaths. In other words, moderate drinking may increase a woman’s risk of dying from breast cancer while protecting against death from heart disease—the number one killer among women.

The question then becomes the following: should women who have survived early-stage breast cancer—the large majority who has lived long enough to be vulnerable to dying from heart disease—abstain from drinking completely?

There is really no clear-cut answer. A women’s decision to drink is a personal decision based on the known risks and a woman’s comfort level with those risks.

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