Happy Monday! Here’s some interesting coffee things making the news lately: A recent study looked into the concerning levels of toxic diacetyl being released during coffee roasting and grinding. On the health front, coffee consumption has been linked to improved survival in colon cancer patients, on the flip side, a different study linked drinking coffee with increased cardiovascular events when consumed by young adults with mild hypertension. Also, it’s that time of year again – the return of Pumpkin Spice coffee!
Back in June of this year, an investigative journalism piece done for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel by reporter Raquel Rutledge shed a light on the potentially toxic levels of diacetyl (a chemical compound that can decrease lung capacity and lead to bronchiolitis obliterans, an irreversible lung disease) released during coffee roasting and grinding. Sampling the air at two separate roasters in Wisconsin found diacetyl levels exceeding the National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety suggested level of 5 parts per billion (ppb), with levels reaching as much as 3x that in the grinding areas. Naturally this was cause for great concern. A recent study, completed by employees of Cardno ChemRisk a “consulting firm that provides scientific advice to the government, corporations, law firms, and various scientific/professional organizations”, found that while the airborne concentrations of naturally occurring diacetyl “are likely to exceed some recommended short-term occupational exposure limits”, this is mitigated by the fact that these concentrations “based on previous analyses of exposure response relationships in animal studies, are far below the concentrations that are expected to cause even minimal responses in the human respiratory tract”. – Given the source, I’m taking the results of the most recent study with a grain of salt. Clearly more independent studies are needed.
A study from researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, led by Charles Fuchs, MD, MPH, director of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Center, looked at dietary pattern questionnaires filled out by approximately 1000 patients, all treated for stage III colon cancer with surgery and chemotherapy, and found what may be a link between coffee consumption and improved survival in colon cancer patients. According to the data gathered, patients who consumed 4 or more cups of coffee a day were shown to be 42% less likely to have their cancer return, when compared to non-coffee drinking participants, and were also 33% less likely to die from cancer, or any other cause. The results were found to be more moderate in patients who consumed 2-3 cups of coffee per day and 1 cup or less showed very little protection against recurrence. Further analysis also determined it’s the caffeine in the coffee that is causing the lowered risk of cancer recurrence or death, but further study is still needed.
Dr Lucio Mos, a cardiologist at Hospital of San Daniele del Friuli in Udine, Italy, recently presented research to the European Society of Cardiology from a 12 year study looking into the effect of drinking coffee on young adults (defined as ages 18-45) with mild hypertension, specifically an association with increased risk of cardiovascular events (mainly heart attacks). The study did indeed find that coffee use is linearly associated with increased risk of cardiovascular events in young adults with mild hypertension, especially in the case of heavy coffee drinkers, and that coffee consumption may increase their risk of developing more severe hypertension and diabetes in later life. Because hypertensive patients often develop type 2 diabetes at a later stage, the study as looked at the the long term effect of coffee drinking on the risk of developing prediabetes; again the relationship was linear, but only in patients who were slow caffeine metabolisers. The study concluded that these at risk patients should be aware that coffee consumption may increase their risk of developing more severe hypertension and diabetes in later life and should keep consumption to a minimum.
Summer is coming to an end and Fall is around the corner, which means Pumpkin Spice season is upon us! This yummy seasonal flavor is available starting today at Dunkin’ Donuts and is coming to Starbucks starting September 8th. This year Starbucks is changing things up a bit by taking out the caramel coloring and adding real pumpkin to their drinks.