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Is Coffee Good For The Aging Heart?

Update Date: Jan 17, 2017 08:00 AM EST

Numerous studies have found that drinking three to four cups of coffee a day reduces the risk of all-cause mortality. However, it is still not clear if coffee is good for the heart. A recent study examining the link between coffee consumption and heart health was able to find evidence of the good benefits of coffee for the heart.

According to researchers from Stanford University School of Medicine, there is evidence that the caffeine found in coffee dampens the inflammatory process that contributes to age-related chronic diseases including heart disease, arthritis, dementia and many types of cancer. However, the researchers stress that people should not focus too much on the influence of caffeine on heart health but to the discovery of a pathway in the human body that contributes to chronic inflammation and other diseases.

The study, published in Nature Medicine, collected and analyzed data from over 100 adults. The participants have taken surveys, given blood samples, and had their medical history reviewed for the ten-year duration of the study. Comparison of blood samples from the older participants with the younger participants was made to look for genes that are more active in older adults.

The researchers found that two clusters of genes are involved in the production of a potent inflammatory protein called IL-1-beta. In addition, the study was able to categorize the older participants into two groups based on how active the clusters of genes are in their bodies.

Nine out of twelve adults in the high activation group have high blood pressure compared to the one out of eleven adults in the low activation group. Adults in the high activation category also tended to have stiff arteries and much older people have high levels of IL-1-beta. The older people in the high activation group also have higher levels of nucleic acid metabolites.

Nucleic-acid metabolites are substances that by-products of molecules that serve as the building blocks of genes. The common reason why people in the low activation group did not show these signs is because most of them drink coffee or caffeinated beverages.

From experiments done on mice, the study found that high levels of nucleic acid metabolites lead to the production of more IL-1-beta in one of the inflammatory gene clusters. These substances cause widespread inflammation and high blood pressure.

On the other hand, the researchers discovered that when combined with these substances, caffeine blocks the inflammatory-triggering effects of the nucleic acid metabolites and IL-1-beta.

Further studies are needed to fully understand the relationship of high or low activation in regards to the inflammatory process. However, with the identification of the nucleic acid metabolites and IL-1-beta in the gene clusters, the study was able to point out substances that can be targeted to stop or inhibit the inflammation process.

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