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Coffee cuts risk of dying from liver cirrhosis

Researchers have said that consuming two or more cups of coffee each day reduces the risk of death from liver cirrhosis by 66 per cent, specifically cirrhosis caused by non-viral hepatitis.

Lead researcher, Dr Woon-Puay Koh with Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore and the National University of Singapore, said prior evidence suggests that coffee may reduce liver damage in patients with chronic liver disease.

He said that their study examined the effects of consuming coffee, alcohol, black tea, green tea, and soft drinks on risk of mortality from cirrhosis.

This prospective population-based study, known as The Singapore Chinese Health Study, recruited 63,275 Chinese subjects between the ages of 45 and 74 living in Singapore. Participants provided information on diet, lifestyle choices, and medical history during in-person interviews conducted between 1993 and 1998. 

Patients were followed for an average of nearly 15 years, during which time there were 14,928 deaths (24 per cent); 114 of them died from liver cirrhosis. The mean age of death was 67 years.

Findings indicate that those who drank at least 20 g of ethanol daily had a greater risk of cirrhosis mortality compared to non-drinker. 

In contrast, coffee intake was associated with a lower risk of death from cirrhosis, specifically for non-viral hepatitis related cirrhosis. 

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a chronic liver disease related to the metabolic syndrome and more sedentary affluent lifestyle, likely predominates among the non-viral hepatitis related cirrhosis group. 

In fact, subjects who drank two or more cups per day had a 66 per cent reduction in mortality risk, compared to non-daily coffee drinkers.  Exercise can keep brain sharp in middle age

Aerobic exercise in your twenties can keep you mentally fit and protect memory in middle age, according to a new study.

Activities that maintain cardio fitness - such as running, swimming and cycling lead to better thinking skills and memory 20 years on, according to researchers at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.

Researchers tested almost 3,000 healthy people with an average age of 25. They underwent treadmill tests of cardiovascular fitness during the first year of the study and again 20 years later.

They were asked to run for as long as possible before they became exhausted or short of breath.

Cognitive tests taken 25 years after the start of the study measured memory and thinking skills.

People who ran for longer on the treadmill performed better at tests of memory and thinking skills 25 years on, even after adjusting for factors such as smoking, diabetes and high cholesterol, ‘BBC News’ reported. People who had smaller time differences in their treadmill test 20 years later were more likely to perform better on the executive function test than those who had bigger differences.
Cradle of craving for booze in brain revealed

Neuroscientists have found the part of brain that controls sensitivity to the negative effects of drinking alcohol.

University of Utah neuroscientists report that when a region of the brain called the lateral habenula is chronically inactivated in rats, they repeatedly drink to excess and are less able to learn from the experience.

U of U professor of neurobiology and anatomy Sharif Taha, Ph.D. and colleagues, tipped the balance that reigns in addictive behaviors by inactivating in rats a brain region called the lateral habenula. 

When the rats were given intermittent access to a solution of 20 per cent alcohol over several weeks, they escalated their alcohol drinking more rapidly, and drank more heavily than control rats.

The lateral habenula is activated by bad experiences, suggesting that without this region the rats may drink more because they fail to learn from the negative outcomes of overindulging. The investigators tested the idea by giving the rats a desirable, sweet juice then injecting them with a dose of alcohol large enough to cause negative effects. Yet rats with an inactivated lateral habenula sought out the juice more than control animals, even though it meant a repeat of the bad experience.

The researchers think the lateral habenula likely works in one of two ways. The region may regulate how badly an individual feels after over-drinking. Alternatively, it may control how well an individual learns from their bad experience. Future work will resolve between the two.

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