Friday, 16 March 2007
Caffeine and Elders
All nutrition reports must be read skeptically. One researcher says fish is good for us; another says the mercury will kill us. For a long time, nutritional supplements have been touted; somewhere last week I read that some might be dangerous or, at least, useless.
Personally, I’m waiting for ice cream to be declared one of the seven major food groups after which I will dismiss all follow-ups, fat and happy in my ignorance.
Caffeine is the most widely-used drug in the world. I doubt I could turn out this blog every day without my morning supply of coffee (although never in ice cream) and when I occasionally skip it, it takes a couple of hours of ass-dragging before the sleep-induced, cognitive cobwebs clear out.
There have been enough negative reports about coffee and/or caffeine over the years that I have sometimes considered giving it up. But never seriously. In old age, it is my drug of choice, so I quickly accepted as gospel truth a new report in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition which concluded that:
“Habitual intake of caffeinated beverages provided protection against the risk of heart disease mortality among elderly participants…”
“Elderly” being people 65 and older, and no protection was found in younger people.
"The protection against death from heart disease in the elderly afforded by caffeine is likely due to caffeine's enhancement of blood pressure," says John Kassotis, MD, associate professor of medicine at SUNY Downstate Medical Center. The researchers were from the medical center and Brooklyn College.”
- Senior Journal, 27 January 2007
The advantage, say the researchers, appears to be dose-related: the more caffeine, the more protection in people without hypertension.
In a survey taken in 2004, 18 percent of respondents 65 and older said they would not give up coffee in exchange for eternal youth.
Now, it appears, they don't need to.