Java Jive

It appears that consuming caffeine is causing a buzz around the computers of some of the epidemiologists of the NIH in Rockville. The old picture of the dedicated scientist poring over a problem, drinking cup after cup of strong coffee and smoking one cigarette after another no longer holds, but the coffee, well that’s another story.

Apparently the old lyric line “I love the Java Jive and it loves me” (Inkspots & Manhattan Transfer for the youngsters out there) has more than an element of truth. Freedman and his team at NIH have dug into the records of over 5M people who were given the third degree on their eating and coffee consumption habits back in 1995 and checked how many were still above ground in 2008. Their results are reported in the current edition of the New England Journal of Medicine (1) and slow filtered by Reuters (2) (I guess journalists also have that coffee drinking/smoking image too).

Nearly 34k men and 19k women had died out of those in the original cohort, who were between 50 and 71 in 1995. The question asked was ‘what did their coffee drinking do for them?’ The number crunching began and after the figures were adjusted for age and smoking habits, the computer spat out the good news.

Guys who were into the java jive to the extent of 6 cups per day were only 90% as likely to pop off as those who had under a cup per day. Even better news for women. 6 cups a day dropped your chances to 84%. We should note that people who already had heart disease, cancer or had a stroke were excluded from the original selection of participants.

It is interesting that the authors are hedging their bets though. They’re uncertain if the effect is causal. I’ll get back to my brew and wait for the next installment.


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