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Monday February  7, 12:01

Coffee: is it good or bad for health?

Caffeine, usual dose (400 mg/d) have a protective effect against Parkinson's disease. Photo credits: REUTERS / Phil Noble.
Caffeine, usual dose (400 mg/d) have a protective effect against Parkinson's disease. Photo credits: REUTERS / Phil Noble.

The debate on the virtues of caffeine and coffee is regularly revived at a rate of (many) scientific publications. The latest, published in the Journal of Pediatrics, is concerned about coffee heavy drinking among children and its disruptive effects on sleep.

This study points out that American children consume a significant amount of caffeine through the colas and other beveradges. Of 228 children aged 5 to 12 years, 75% use it daily average of 52 mg per day in 5-7 years, the equivalent of a cup of tea. The average consumption is 109 mg per day for 8-12 years, the equivalent of a cup of coffee.

It is better to refer to the maximum dosage specified by the Canadian Ministry of Health: no more than 45 mg / day for 7 years, no more than 85 mg / day for 12 years.

It is also well known that caffeine accelerates the heart rate slightly, which makes it inadvisable for people prone to tachycardia. It is also mildly hypertensive. But the epidemiological data are somewhat contradictory, and more precise studies to understand the cardiovascular effects of caffeine are needed.

Other benefits attributed to the usual dose of caffeine (about 400 mg / day) are no longer in doubt. And what about a protective effect against Parkinson's disease? "It goes through the blocking of adenosine A2a receptors located on dopaminergic neurons destroyed by the disease," said Astrid Nehlig neurochemistry (INSERM, Strasbourg). But here again, the virtues are not universal, at least among women. This preventive effect concerns only those who are not taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

The effects related to cognitive decline in Alzheimer's disease remains however unclear. "Caffeine causes, in animal model, decreased amyloid plaques (plaques in the brain of Alzheimer patients), and it reduces the amnesic effects of this disease," says neurobiologist David Blum (Inserm U837, Lille). Our goal now is to move towards a human trial, combining biological markers of Alzheimer's disease and imaging. "

Equally debated is the relationship between coffee and cancer. More than five hundred studies have been devoted to the topic. Assumed the risk of pancreatic cancer or bladder because of the roasting seems to be ruled out. But the vast heterogeneity and variable scientific value of studies preclude any conclusions.


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