A doctor buries his mistakes

Benefits of coffee: Studies have shown that regular cups of coffee lower the incidence of strokes and heart attacks.

THERE’S nothing like a soothing cup of coffee each morning.

Before you say “it’s not my cup of tea” you’d better think again.

Now it seems there’s a strong case for the health benefits of coffee. Studies have recently shown that regular cups of java lower the drinker’s incidence of strokes and heart attacks and decrease the rates of certain cancers. All of that may help explain why regular coffee drinkers tend to live longer than people who don’t drink the brew.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that it comes with a racial twist. The results have come from analysing mostly white populations. Whether the benefits hold for people of other racial and ethnic backgrounds remain uncertain.

Still, there is hope. Now, scientists report that the longevity perks likely apply to African Americans, Latinos and some Asians as well.

In two new studies published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers delved into the coffee-drinking habits of more than 700,000 people in the US and in 10 European countries. The scientists were particularly interested in looking at death rates among people of non-white populations. In both studies, people in these groups who drank more coffee tended to have a lower risk of dying during the study period than those who drank less coffee or no coffee.

Decaf also works

In the US study, African Americans, Japanese Americans, Latinos and whites who drank more than four cups of coffee a day showed an 18% lower risk of dying prematurely in the 16 years of follow-up, compared to non-drinkers. Even those who drank a single cup of coffee daily showed some benefit; their risk of dying early was 12% lower compared to non-drinkers. (In these studies, people self-reported their coffee consumption.)

If you’re thinking it’s the caffeine, perish the thought. The studies clearly indicate that drinkers of decaf are just as protected.

What are we to make of this? Put simply, we’ve been taken for a ride by doctors for years. They have been saying that coffee is Bad For You because, among other things, it causes sleeplessness, irritability and irregular heartbeats in some people.

The only thing doctors agree on is that they concede that some of them are idiots. A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that nine out of ten doctors agreed that one out of ten doctors was an idiot.

Think about it. It had been drummed into us that cholesterol is terrible for you. That way, warned the medics, lay arteriosclerosis, an occasional stroke and a massive coronary all before you hit 40.

Now they tell us that cholesterol has nothing to do with a heart attack and all those trips to Vitacare to purchase the latest expensive cholesterol-lowering drug may have been in vain. Even so, the cardiologist will still purse his lips and say “but to be on the safe side... ”

Then they tell us that eggs are bad for you. And some people even marketed the low-cholesterol egg. Now eggs have been trumpeted as the new, wonder food, the 21st century equivalent of a perfectly balanced diet not unlike a Brownie in each hand.

A Hindu proverb states that “no physician is really good until he’s killed one or two patients”.

And you know what’s the kind of good news a doctor has for you. He’s going to tell you that there’s going to be disease named after you.

And then you’ll know how Alfred Alzheimer felt after he made his first, fateful trip to the doctor’s.

It’s enough to make you want to buy a dog, name him Physician just so you’d have the satisfaction of saying “Physician, heel thyself”.

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