The Most Important Principles for Staying Young: If You Like It, Keep Drinking Black Coffee to Keep Your Brain Young!

10 May

Our basic premise is that your body is amazing.  You get a do over. It doesn’t take that long, and it isn’t that hard if you know what to do.  In these notes, we give you a short course in what to do so it becomes easy for you and for you to teach others. We want you to know how much control you have over both the quality and length of your life.

This month, I want to talk about how great coffee is, even in light of that judge in California who has mandated that all coffee in California be labeled “as containing a potential carcinogen”…

While it’s true that the acrylamide that coffee contains after roasting (French fries, chips, crackers, chocolate, and grains contain it too) is the same chemical that the International Agency for Research on Cancer has designated as a 2A carcinogen (that boils down to “might or might not be carcinogenic in humans”), it’s not likely to be risky in the minute amounts found even in unhealthy foods. The judge in this case sought “proof” that coffee confers a health benefit and/or is free of all risk.  Unfortunately, this judge needs a remedial course in high-school biology.  He apparently doesn’t understand relative risks and the basics of epidemiologic research for nutritional choices.

How does acrylamide get in coffee in the first place? Well, the chemical is formed by using what the FDA called “traditional high-temperature cooking processes for certain carbohydrate-rich foods.”

Those small amounts per billion (very dilute!) are far, far, far less than the straight dose of acrylamide fed to lab rats to test if it is potentially carcinogenic. Their dose is up to 10,000 times stronger than what you’re getting from the foods you’re eating. Plus, rodents absorb and metabolize the chemical differently than humans.  A cup of coffee has much less acrylamide than a small container of French fries (and a light roast has much less of this chemical than a dark roast).

When asked if the available tests mean humans should stop drinking coffee, the Washington Post quoted Dr. Leonard Lichtenfeld, the American Cancer Society’s deputy chief medical officer, as saying, “No. That’s not what the science shows us.”

A meta-analysis of multiple studies on coffee consumption found that, overall, coffee seems to offer health benefits that include a probable decreased risk of breast, colorectal, colon, endometrial, and prostate cancers and cardiovascular disease. In addition, observational studies showed caffeine was associated with a probable decreased risk of Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes, and dementia—all by 20 percent or more.

So don’t forego your Joe, but do ditch added sugars and high-fat dairy. As for me, I’m still drinking more than six cups a day as I believe the preponderance of data that coffee offers fast metabolizers (those who do not get a headache, arrhythmia, gastric upset or anxiety from a cup in a one-hour period) a protection from cancer, dementia, and type 2 diabetes. And yes, I do believe all who enjoy coffee should continue as it does— IMHO and in more than four studies in humans—decrease brain dysfunction.

Next month, we’ll talk about another choice that keeps your brain young…

Thanks for reading. Feel free to send questions to:

Dr. Mike Roizen


PS: Please continue to order the new book by Jean Chatzky and myself, AgeProof: Living Longer Without Running Out of Money or Breaking a Hip.

 NOTE: You should NOT take this as medical advice.
This article is of the opinion of its author.
Before you do anything, please consult with your doctor.
You can follow Dr Roizen on twitter @YoungDrMike (and get updates on the latest and most important medical stories of the week).  The YOU docs have two newly revised books: The patron saint “book” of this column YOU Staying Young—revised and YOU: The Owner’s Manual…revised —yes a revision of the book that started Dr Oz to being Dr OzThese makes great gifts—so do YOU: ON a Diet and YOU: The Owner’s Manual for teens.  
Michael F. Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer and chair of the Wellness Institute at the Cleveland Clinic. His radio show streams live on Saturdays from 5-7 p.m. He is the co-author of 4 #1 NY Times Best Sellers including: YOU Staying Young.

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