Coffee May Thwart Depression, New Study Says
Women are twice as likely as men to develop depression over their lifetime. The good news: a few daily cups of Joe may lower women's depression risk, a new study suggests. Researchers from Harvard's School of Public Health analyzed surveys on the caffeine consumption of more than 50,000 U.S. women, who were tracked for more than a decade. Women who had two or three cups of caffeinated coffee a day were 15 percent less likely to develop depression over 10 years than those who had one cup or no coffee each week, the team found. Drinking four or more cups was associated with a 20 percent lower depression risk. But don't turn on the coffee maker just yet. The findings, published Sept. 26 in the Archives of Internal Medicine, don't prove that coffee prevents depression. The non-coffee drinkers, for example, could have had other risk factors for depression that weren't accounted for (i.e., a death in the family). Also, the women in the study were nurses, making it difficult to generalize findings to the broader public, said Emma Robertson-Blackmore, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Rochester Medical Center, in an interview with My Health News Daily.
Is Coffee Bad for You? Actually, Drinking Coffee May Be Good for You
Coffee may have other benefits, too, U.S. News reported in 2009. It's believed to improve mood, alertness, and energy. But is coffee bad for you? Despite past concerns about coffee, tea, and other sources of caffeine being detrimental to health, recent research suggests that regular coffee consumption may reduce the risk of health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, Parkinson's disease, and liver cancer—and regular coffee drinkers might even live longer. "For most people [who] choose to drink coffee, the benefits probably outweigh the risks," says Donald Hensrud, chair of the division of preventive medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
"In the past, a lot of people have tried to improve their health by cutting down on coffee," says Rob M. van Dam, assistant professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health. But that's probably an unnecessary sacrifice. Although experts once thought caffeine was harmful, recent "studies have been largely reassuring," he says. In the past, it has been hard to differentiate the health effects of coffee versus those tied to smoking cigarettes, since heavy coffee drinkers are more likely to smoke than other people. [Read more: Is Coffee Bad for You? Actually, Drinking Coffee May Be Good for You.]
How Coffee Can Energize Your Workout
Gym bag, check. Car keys, check. Coffee downed, check. Yes, a caffeine kick could be a valuable addition to your pre-exercise routine, delaying muscle fatigue and keeping you focused and energetic. You don't want to overdo it, though. Sleep problems, headaches, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, or maybe even a heart attack can result. Here's how to work caffeine into your workouts, U.S. News reported in 2010.
1. Match the amount to your body. "The larger you are, the more metabolically active tissue you have," says Nicholas Gant, director of the Exercise Nutrition and Metabolism Laboratory at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. "If you're a small person, your tissues don't use up as much, therefore you need a lesser dose." A very rough recommendation is 0.5 to 1.4 milligrams of caffeine per pound of body weight. Coffee averages about 20 mg. per ounce, or 160 mg. per 8-ounce cup. That's about the limit for a 130-pound woman, though a 200-pound man could probably down a couple of cups. Go above 4 mg. of caffeine per pound and your workout could be ruined by digestive distress, the jitters, and other unpleasant side effects/ [Read more: How Coffee Can Energize Your Workout.]