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Coffee Might Help Block Inflammatory Cells, Study Suggests

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Coffee lovers will be happy to know that caffeine might have another health benefit. A new study on the effects caffeine has on the immune system suggests that the substance might help decrease the inflammation that gets worse with age.

The correlational study’s findings could help explain why coffee has been said to help tamp down on a number of health problems, such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and even dementia. There have been numerous studies that have found a link between caffeine, coffee and good health. But there are also some that say hot coffee could increase the risk for certain cancers, The Verge reports.

This study, however, looks at how exactly caffeine works on immune cells. Previous research has proven that caffeine is able to block the effects of adenosine. When adenosine receptors are obstructed from sending signals to the brain, caffeine can wake a person. In the same manner, blocking adenosine may also block the pathways where inflammatory molecules are produced.

Mark Davis, senior author on the study and a professor at Stanford, says,

That something many people drink — and actually like to drink — might have a direct benefit came as a surprise to us.

While no direct link between caffeine and a boost in overall health has been found yet, Davis explains, “What we’ve shown is a correlation between caffeine consumption and longevity. And we’ve shown more rigorously, in laboratory tests, a very plausible mechanism for why this might be so.”

Researchers from Stanford University and the University of Bordeaux examined the genes of 114 people in an aging study. They were looking into how specific genes produced proteins.

They found that people between the ages of 60 and 89 tend to increase the production of immune molecules. This is important for fighting infection, but has also been closely linked to cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s.

Among those in the study, 12 made more of these inflammatory molecules while 11 made less. Those in the latter group were healthier, had lower blood pressure, had more flexible arteries, and had more relatives who lived past 90 years old. They also admitted to consuming more caffeinated drinks like coffee, tea and soda.

The scientists then tested their adenosine theory and found that cells soaked in caffeine produced lower levels of these inflammatory molecules. While more research is needed into the matter, the results are a boost for those who love their coffee.

The study was published in Nature Medicine.

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