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Health Discovery

Coffee or Tea? Yes, Please

Common beverages may lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, cancer

“The main message is that people who drink coffee and tea do not have to worry that it increases the danger of cardiovascular illnesses,” she says. And, she says, moderate consumption might even protect against coronary heart disease.

The results were published online June 18 in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology.

Cancer and coffee

In a separate report, an international team of researchers looked at the findings from nine earlier studies conducted in Europe, North America and Puerto Rico. Those studies involved 3,900 people with cancers of the mouth cavity and the pharynx and a control group of 9,000 other people without those cancers. Researchers then asked all of them about how much coffee and tea they drank.

The study found that the risk of developing these cancers was 12 percent lower for men and women who drank coffee compared with those who didn’t.

Those who drank more than four cups of coffee a day had a 39 percent lower risk, says lead researcher Mia Hashibe, an assistant professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. But she, too, cautions against drinking coffee just based on these results.

“Individuals metabolize coffee differently, so they shouldn’t take this as a general suggestion at this point,” she says. “ But it’s an interesting finding that we hope will be followed up in other studies.”

The researchers did not see any association between tea drinking and a lower risk for these cancers.

“There is increasing evidence that moderate coffee or tea consumption [two to six cups a day] is not harmful for health and may have slight benefits,” says Frank Hu, M.D., professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Coffee and tea “can be included as part of healthy diet and lifestyle,” he says. “However, don’t expect tea or coffee will have large effects on heart disease or cancer prevention or cognitive decline, as the evidence is still preliminary.”

Cathie Gandel is a freelance writer based in Bridgehampton, N.Y.

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