MILWAUKEE — One of life’s simple pleasures just got a little sweeter. After years of waffling research on coffee and health, even some fear that java might raise the risk of heart disease, a big study finds the opposite: Coffee drinkers are a little more likely to live longer. Regular or decaf doesn’t matter.
The study of 400,000 people is the largest ever done on the issue, and the results should reassure any coffee lovers who think it’s a guilty pleasure that may do harm.
“Our study suggests that’s really not the case,” said lead researcher Neal Freedman of the National Cancer Institute. “There may actually be a modest benefit of coffee drinking.”
No one knows why. Coffee contains a thousand things that can affect health, from helpful antioxidants to tiny amounts of substances linked to cancer. The most widely studied ingredient — caffeine — didn’t play a role in the new study’s results.
It’s not that earlier studies were wrong. There is evidence that coffee can raise LDL, or bad cholesterol, and blood pressure at least short-term, and those in turn can raise the risk of heart disease.
Even in the new study, it first seemed that coffee drinkers were more likely to die at any given time. But they also tended to smoke, drink more alcohol, eat more red meat and exercise less than non-coffee-drinkers. Once researchers took those things into account, a clear pattern emerged: Each cup of coffee per day nudged up the chances of living longer.
The study was done by the National Institutes of Health and AARP. The results are published in Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine.
Careful, though — this doesn’t prove that coffee makes people live longer, only that the two seem related. Continue reading
HONOLULU – Kona coffee farmers are asking the governor to veto a bill that removes mandatory certification requirements for Hawaii-grown coffee.
The bill was one of dozens that cleared the full House and the Senate on Tuesday, two days before the end of the 2012 legislative session.
On Thursday, lawmakers will vote on the remaining measures, including the $11.2 billion state budget bill and related fiscal measures.
Kona coffee farmers have opposed House Bill 280 throughout the session. The measure addresses a staffing shortage at the state Department of Agriculture, which has had to eliminate all but one coffee inspector position in West Hawaii Island.
Currently, coffee labeled as Kona-grown must be inspected and certified by the state. The inspectors verify that blends labeled as Kona actually contain at least 10 percent Kona-grown coffee.
If the bill becomes a law, however, inspections will become voluntary and growers will provide their own documentation of the coffee’s origin.
Rep. Cynthia Thielen, R-Kaneohe-Kailua, tried unsuccessfully to get the bill amended on the floor. Her proposal would have inserted language from a food sustainability measure that failed to pass out of committee. Continue reading
Coffee farmers and processors remain at odds over proposed legislation that would get rid of mandatory coffee inspections and grading.
The Kona Coffee Farmers Association, which has roughly 300 members, has vociferously opposed House Bill 280, questioning whether the bill will eliminate the problems it purports to address, such as transporting coffee cherry from one district to another, to sell as pricier Kona coffee. But many of the remaining coffee organizations, including the Hawaii Coffee Association, the Kona Coffee Council, the Maui Coffee Association and the Hawaii Coffee Growers Association, have submitted significant amounts of testimony supporting the measure.
The Department of Agriculture supports the measure’s intent, spokeswoman Janelle Saneishi said.
David Case, a member of the Kona Coffee Farmers Association’s legislative committee, said the proposed changes will affect the Kona coffee brand. But, he said, he’s fairly certain the measure will pass. He said he’s hoping Gov. Neil Abercrombie will veto the bill if the Legislature approves it. To that end, the association presented the governor with a petition with 320 signatures opposing the bill. Continue reading
Even as coffee consumption grows in Thailand each year, the country remains a net coffee importer. Several coffee growers have shifted to other lucrative plants such as rubber and oil palm because of their higher market prices.
Varri Sodprasert, president of the Thai Coffee Association, said Thailand’s coffee production has dropped continuously the last five to six years, with production this year estimated at only 41,000 tonnes.
Coffee has been grown in Thailand for over 100 years. The country officially became a coffee exporter in 1976, selling 850 tonnes of robusta coffee. Helped by strong world market prices in the 1980s, exports thrived, culminating in a peak in 1991-92 of almost 60,000 tonnes.
The collapse of the “International Coffee Agreement” in July 1989 and the following slump in world coffee prices hit farmers hard. Facing an oversupply, the Thai government initiated a five-year plan starting in 1992 to encourage coffee farmers to switch crops, reducing the coffee plantation area from almost 500,000 rai.
Coffee plantation is estimated at 300,000 rai this year, with about 260,000 rai for robusta beans and 39,000 rai for arabica, said Peyanoot Naka, senior research officer at the Agriculture Department.
Robusta coffee growers are mostly in the South, where plantation area is expected to drop from 287,000 rai as more farmers shift to rubber and oil palm.
But arabica strains, grown mostly in the North, are expected to increase plantation given relatively high prices.
The ex-farm price of arabica is now at 150 baht per kilogramme, while the related price of robusta is 72 baht per kg.
Domestic consumption is estimated at 70,000 tonnes a year. Thailand imports at least 5,000 tonnes to supply instant coffee makers. Continue reading
KAILUA-KONA >> A proposed bill that would eliminate inspection and certification requirements for green coffee beans shipped from Hawaii is pitting farmers against blenders.
West Hawaii Today reports the bill passed out of the House Agriculture Committee on Thursday. It would remove provisions put in place after a scandal in the 1990s where coffee grown in other regions outside of Hawaii were labeled and sold as Kona coffee.
Blender Hawaii Coffee Co. President Jim Wayman says there are concerns about delays from waiting for a state inspector to grade and certify the coffee.
Farmer Bruce Corker says the Department of Agriculture should hire more inspectors and that buyers on the mainland and overseas won’t have assurances they are getting genuine Hawaii-grown coffee.
If you’re enjoying your Monday morning cup of coffee, take a moment to appreciate it for its deliciousness and the good it may be doing your body.
As I wrote in the “Eat, Drink and Be Healthy” column a couple of weeks ago, recent research has found that coffee’s potential health benefits may outweigh any health risks it might pose. Coffee consumption may help ward off Parkinson’s disease, diabetes and a score of other conditions.
That growing list may now include endometrial cancer: A study published last week in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention (a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research) found that coffee consumption may reduce women’s risk of developing endometrial cancer.
The endometrium is the lining of the uterus. An estimated 46,470 women will be diagnosed in the United States in 2011, and an estimated 8,120 deaths will result from the disease.
Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health analyzed data for 67,470 women taking part in the Nurses’ Health Study in 1980. Over 26 years, 627 cases of endometrial cancer occurred among study participants.
The data showed that drinking four or more cups of coffee daily reduced risk of endometrial cancer by 25 percent compared to drinking less than a cup a day. The association held true for decaffeinated coffee, though the link was less robust — perhaps because only a tiny fraction of the women in the study reported drinking decaf. No association was found between drinking caffeinated tea and endometrial cancer risk.
Coffee is believed to alter the way estrogen and insulin, both of which influence our risk of chronic disease, work in our bodies.
The study notes that regular exercise and maintaining a healthy body weight are the best defenses against endometrial cancer. Still, adding coffee to the mix could potentially help keep women healthy. Unless, that is, they add cream and sugar to their coffee, in which case the added calories and fat might undo any good the coffee might offer, the authors suggest.
Indonesia’s self-proclaimed “King of Luwak”, Gunawan Supriadi, is having a hard time keeping up with demand for the beans excreted by his stable of pampered civet “cats”.
And he’s not alone. Demand for coffee brewed with beans plucked from the dung of the furry, weasel-like creatures — known locally as luwaks — is surging among well-healed connoisseurs around the world, exporters say.
About 40 civets at Supriadi’s plantation in West Lampung district, Sumatra, provide the intestinal machinery for his Raja Luwak (King of Luwak) brand of bean. Lampung is the undisputed capital of luwak coffee.
“My target is to have 150 civets soon because I have to meet the surge in demand,” Supriadi said.
“In 2008, I gathered about 50 kilograms of luwak beans and sold them to local distributors. In 2009, I sold 300 kilograms. In 2010, I sold 1.2 tonnes.”
The “golden droppings” of the luwak, or Asian palm civet, fetch up to $800 for two pounds in countries like the United States, Australia, Japan, South Korea and Singapore.
It’s another story altogether at retail level. Single cups of the world’s most expensive coffee have been known to sell for almost $100 in specialty outlets in London.
The civets play two roles. Firstly, they tend to choose the best berries to digest. Experts say wild civets are the most discerning, but their droppings are also the most difficult to harvest.
Having nibbled off the thin outer layer of fruit, the civets put their digestive juices to work. The enzymes penetrate the beans — usually arabica in Sumatra — and change their chemical balance in subtle ways.
The end product, after a good wash and light roasting, lacks the bitterness of ordinary coffee and has a unique, soft flavour.
“If luwak coffee is a car, then it must be a Rolls-Royce,” Supriadi said. Continue reading
MORE evidence that coffee, particularly among female drinkers, has a positive effect against the most common form of skin cancer worldwide has been released.
Women who drank more than three cups per day of caffeinated coffee saw a 20 percent lower risk of getting basal cell carcinoma (BCC), a slow-growing form of cancer, than those who drank less than a cup per month.
Men who drank the same amount saw a nine percent lower risk, said the research presented at the 10th American Association for Cancer Research International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research in Boston.
“Given the nearly one million new cases of BCC diagnosed each year in the United States, daily dietary factors with even small protective effects may have great public health impact,” said researcher Fengju Song, a postdoctoral fellow in the department of dermatology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School.
“Our study indicates that coffee consumption may be an important option to help prevent BCC.”
The data was derived from the Nurses’ Health Study (Brigham and Women’s Hospital) and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study (Harvard School of Public Health).
The nurses study followed 72,921 participants from June 1984 to June 2008. The health professionals study tracked 39,976 participants from June 1986 to June 2008.
Basal cell carcinoma was the most frequently diagnosed skin cancer in the groups, totalling 22,786 cases.
The benefits of coffee drinking were not seen against the next two most prevalent types – squamous cell carcinoma (1953 cases) or melanoma (741 cases).
Basal cell carcinoma is a non-melanoma form of skin cancer, and is the most common cancer in the United States. Seventy-five percent of all skin cancers are basal cell carcinomas Continue reading
IN YOUR FRIDGE / Farmers’ market managers, Pamela Boyer and Annie Suite have joined hands with local farmers to create Oahu Agri-Tours. There’s no fancy farmhouse or massive farm machinery; what you see is what you get. You’ll experience first-hand how farmers are committed to practicing clean, organic farming.
Poamoho Farms is one of the farms on tour, and guests learn how the fruit orchard uses natural pest management and fertilization methods. Tin Roof Ranch farmers Luann Casey and Gary Gunder butcher their chickens the day before selling them at the market.
Na Mea Kupono wetland taro farm practices old school taro farming methods that most locals don’t even know about. Here you can also watch a traditional poi-pounding demonstration.
At Mohala Farms you’ll see how simple and natural farming is still possible (and still exists). Continue reading
HONOLULU – Hawaii farmer Paul Uster was on vacation in California when he saw a package of Kona coffee blend in a supermarket that he knew would upset fellow growers back home on the Big Island.
The Safeway brand of Kona blend medium roast coffee didn’t specify what percentage was made from the world-famous bean or whether it was grown in Hawaii – information a law in the Aloha State requires for labels on Hawaii-grown coffee. That law is meant to inform consumers but also protect the integrity of Hawaii’s premier coffee grown on slopes of volcanic rock.
“It degrades the reputation and the quality of Kona coffee. When consumers are not informed it makes it harder for me to make a living,” said Uster, who owns Mokulele Farms and is on the board of directors of the Kona Coffee Farmers Association. “Kona and other Hawaiian coffees are a great treasure to the state.”
Hawaii is the only place in the United States where coffee is grown. Beans grown in the Kau district of the Big Island are also gaining popularity among discerning coffee aficionados.
Safeway’s blend was priced at $8.99 a pound, Uster said, while 8 ounces of pure Kona coffee can sell for $25. Continue reading