New Research Study Shows that Coffee (Caffeine) Blocks Inflammation
Dear Dr. Mahler:
I recently read in our local newspaper that researchers claim the coffee drinkers could live longer. What are your thoughts? I am 70 years old and have had COPD for eight years. I try to eat right and do some physical activity for 20-30 minutes each day. My doctor has prescribed Advair for me which I take twice a day. Thanks for answering my question.
Shannon from Birmingham, AL
I have received many questions about drinking coffee (caffeine) and possible benefits. Also, my post “Will coffee help my COPD?” on January 18, 2015, is the most viewed topic on the website.
Before discussing the recent study, here is some brief information about inflammation (redness and swelling). In Latin, inflammation means “set afire.” It is an important part of the body’s immune system to heal an injury or fight an infection.
However, if this persists and is chronic, inflammation plays a key role in various diseases – like asthma, diabetes, heart disease, bowel disease – in addition to COPD.
In a recent study published in the journal Nature Medicine, researchers at Stanford University analyzed the genes of 114 individuals who were part of an aging study. They found that older people between the ages of 60 and 89 tend to increase the production of inflammatory cells. Too much of these over a long time has been linked to heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Based on what the subjects reported in a questionnaire, those in the less inflamed group consumed more caffeine drinks like coffee, soda, and tea. The researchers also looked at the effects of caffeine on inflammatory cells in a culture (like a test tube). The cells soaked in caffeine produced far lower levels of inflammatory cells compared with those not soaked in caffeine.
In summary, the study showed a correlation between caffeine consumption and older people with low levels of inflammation in the blood. One of the authors, Dr. Mark Davis, commented that, “That something many people drink – might have a direct benefit came as a surprise to us.” While the researchers did not prove that caffeine causes better health, they came up with a possible way (mechanism) it could be doing so.
In the mean time, enjoy your coffee or tea. There are many proven benefits. For someone who has COPD, caffeine relaxes the muscle that wrap around the breathing tubes that hopefully might make it a little easier to breathe.