Friday, December 18, 2009


Arguably, the most outstanding article with commercial health value this week must be the article published in the Dec 14th issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, by Dr Mark Woodward et al, entitled "Coffee, Decaffineinated coffee and tea consumption in relation to incident of type 2 diabetes mellitus ". There is obvious commercial value and also important human health value. Diabetes is a very deadly, chronic disease, that can take much healthcare dollar. What is more important is that it can be prevented if we learn to take care of ourselves. Simple chnages in lifestyle can prevent this very "expensive " disease.
Dr Woodward and colleagues from 3 continents, went into the internet search engines, and look for all the prospective studies that linked diabetes with tea and coffee consumption. ( nowadays, it is too expensive to conduct large scale, interventional studies, so registries and prospective studies are cheaper to conduct and also the internet search is also cheap and affordable, with some value ). Their team ( fellows from Australia, Europe and Dr Woodward from Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York ), found 18 prospective studies from 1966-2009 that fitted their criteria. It involve 475,922 participants. They just look for the association between the participants' drinking habits of coffee and tea and the incidence of T2 Diabetes. They found that there was a relationship. They found that if you drink 3-4 cups of coffee ( whether caf or decaf ) or tea, there was a 20% reduction in the incidence of T2 diabetes. In fact, their graph showed that for every cup of coffee or tea additional per day, there was a 7% reduction of T2DM. That is great information, if it is proven to be true.
What we do not know is why? Why did drinking tea or coffee reduce the incidence of T2DM. Is it because of anti-oxidants, magnesium, other yet unknown chemicals present in coffee and tea, or is it because of the lower amount of sugar in these drinks when compared to the more popular "teh tarik ", coca-cola and carbonated drinks? Knowing the exact reasons will obviously have evn more commercial value.
Lastly, I must mention that this is a prospective registry type data, which is essentially pattern forming. It is not exactly an interventional studies, comparing those who drink from those who do not, which tend to be more accurate. Here Dr Woodward and colleagues tried to indentify those who follow from one life-style and see their incidence of the disease that you are studying. It is a horizontal study, not a vertical, more interventional study overtime. We do need some vertical interventional study, to be more certain. But it also cost more, and so is unlikely to be done. Horizontal prospective studies are noce and gives an association, but it cannot be confirmatory.
For me, I take it that drinking coffee or tea is good for my health and live it at that. I will also exercise regularly and keep my weight at BMI 24 and waistline of 34 inches. I wish to avoid T2 diabetes mellitus as best as I can.

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