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Good news on the research front

June 17th, 2008

Fresh from the discovery that red wine is good for you, dedicated researchers have turned their attention to coffee, finding that “coffee drinking does not appear to increase a person’s risk of early death and may cut a person’s chances of dying from heart disease”. Isn’t science wonderful?

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  1. Peter Pan
    June 17th, 2008 at 16:32 | #1

    I can remember reading somewhere that the average American get the majority of the anti-oxidants in their diet from coffee. I don’t know if this was the result of the a valid scientific investigation but if it isn’t true it ought to be.

  2. El Mono
    June 17th, 2008 at 17:29 | #2

    What will be the conservative think tanks reaction to such news /

  3. Jason
    June 17th, 2008 at 17:48 | #3

    Yes! This is the best news I’ve heard all day. I’m off to get a doppio and a Shiraz this instant.

  4. Ian Gould
    June 17th, 2008 at 17:56 | #4

    From The Onion:

    http://www.theonion.com/content/node/31222

    Bacon Good For You, Reports Best Scientist Ever

  5. Ikonoclast
    June 17th, 2008 at 21:05 | #5

    The effects of drugs on different people vary widely in my experience. Without going into it too deeply, I would observe the following effects on me. What are the experiences of others?

    For me;

    1. Coffee – moderately addictive, acts as an appetite stimulant, an excess (7 cups or more of instant) causes jitteryness, anxiety and insomnia.

    2. Tea – slightly to non-addictive, seems to act as appetite suppressant if I drink it black and unsweetened.

    3. Tobacco (nicotine) – completely non-addictive to my physiology for some strange reason. I once smoked asiduously for 3 months, found I could not make myself like it and gave it up with no ill effects.

    4. Alcohol – addictive, used to drink buckets of it. Now never touch it.

    5. Opiates – Physiologically I am allergic to all opiates and derivatives. Couldn’t take a couple of codeine without chucking all the next day. Very handy in avoiding any danger of such addiction.

    7. Marijuana / Hashish – Horrible stuff. Gave me panic attacks and paranoid delusions. Could never believe anyone found it calming but apparently many do.

    8. Hallucinogens – Always considered my grip on reality too tenuous as it was. Never even considered them.

    But the moral of the story is that supposedly scientific generalisations about what red wine or coffee or whatever might do for a person do not hold. Individual responses vary too widely. Individuals must be their own researchers and decide what is good and not good for them. And if your instinct is telling you to not even experiment with something then don’t.

    And let’s face it, though alcohol is legal it’s one of the most damaging drugs around.

  6. TerjeP
    June 17th, 2008 at 21:19 | #6

    Marijuana never did anything for me despite inhaling. Beer is much more fun. I have never found alcohol in the slightest bit addictive. I drink a beer or two per month and occassionally I have wine or spirits. When the opportunity arises I have been known to drink to the point of being quite silly.

    I’ve smoked tobacco several times. I didn’t mind the aroma. Can’t say I found it addictive but perhaps I didn’t smoke enough.

    I’ve never tried the party drugs.

    I drink lots of coffee. I’m glad it’s back in favour.

  7. smiths
    June 17th, 2008 at 22:03 | #7

    ahhh, finally a subject i actually know something about,
    lsd – one of the most profound and enlightening experiences of my life,
    ecstasy – great fun, good for honesty, but eveyone tends to talk rubbish in the end,
    coffee – couldnt live without it,
    red wine – enjoying a lovely drop right now

    in general, i am a great fan of drugs in their proper place

  8. Alexander McLeay
    June 17th, 2008 at 23:21 | #8

    Tea, coffee : Not a fan of hot drinks. I drink tea occasionally, usually when it’d be odd not to. Can’t stand the taste of coffee.

    Coke : Addictive. If I have two drinks or more in a day though I run the risk of losing all concentation and being completely unable to sleep. It seems that they have to be separate to have an affect ; at least, I can drink a 600 mL bottle no problems, but if I have a can with lunch and another in the afternoon, I won’t be sleeping till 2.30 if I’m lucky. I’m trying to stop drinking any, not sleeping because I decided to have two in one day is getting really irritating.

    Alcohol : fun, but not addictive.

    Anything else : I haven’t tried.

  9. John Mashey
    June 18th, 2008 at 03:46 | #9

    Regarding tobacco at least, as pointed out in earlier post here, the way to get people (or rats) addicted to tobacco is to start them in early teens (or equivalent) so their brains get wired during development. People who start in the 20s have a much better shot at breaking the habit, or not caring much about nicotine when they try it.

    I don’t know offhand about the others, but I suspect, besides the usual biochemistry differences, that at least some of the variation arises by the age at which one first starts.

    However, so far a serious omission is that of chocolate.

  10. rog
    June 18th, 2008 at 08:09 | #10

    A sublime combination of hot chocolate and espresso – mocha

  11. June 18th, 2008 at 11:19 | #11

    On the surface that study looks dodgy to me. Spanish university studying US coffee drinkers?

    We don’t get told what sort of coffee they were drinking but its my bet it was mostly instant. Even if it wasnt USA coffee is known to be about the worlds worst outside of UK. In addition the sample seem to be all hospital workers – doctors and nurses.

    Anyway I’ve always known that good coffee and good red wine was good for me.

  12. Dylwah
    June 18th, 2008 at 11:59 | #12

    Hooray for a good random long term cohort study. My caffine pusher claims that the dinky little coffee “grinder” that fills my house with that fresh ground coffee smell every morning is a con as it cuts the beans not grinds them as is reccomended, ah well the closer i get to heaven the further away it seems.

    echoing Ikonoclast, whenever i have tried an illicit amphetamine i have gone to sleep within minutes. strangely i have had to be careful in ‘biker’ pubs when ingesting THC as the patched ones think that i am speeding and demand some or demand answers as to why i didn’t buy it from them.

    I have never had the chance to try pharmacutical grade speed, the US air force wouldn’t have me, boo hoo ;) .

  13. Jim Birch
    June 18th, 2008 at 13:45 | #13

    I knew a guy who drank coffee nearly every day and died at the age of 28.

    Sorry, I was getting confused with the AGW debate.

  14. David
    June 18th, 2008 at 14:28 | #14

    Seeing as I start the day with 750 ml of black coffee and finish it with the same quantity of red wine, I should live forever.

  15. PeterRickwood
    June 18th, 2008 at 16:22 | #15

    This is fun… we’re giving our experience of particular drugs. Here’s mine:

    Coffee: Hated the stuff till I had kids. Then required it purely for functional purposes. Now addicted. Am starting to enjoy it.

    Marijuana: Experience has varied between ‘no effect’ and ‘really good’. No cravings/addictions.

    Alcohol: Consistently satisfying. Readily available, cheap (I dont drink alcopops :-) , always has an effect (see Marijuana, above), always a pleasant one, non-addictive (for me, anyway). Pity about the liver cancer….

  16. swio
    June 18th, 2008 at 20:57 | #16

    Someone should tell Voltaire.

    A big coffee drinker, Voltaire was once warned that the beverage was a slow poison. “It must be slow,” the philosopher replied, “for I have been drinking it for sixty-five years and I am not yet dead”.

  17. Socrates
    June 18th, 2008 at 23:35 | #17

    I hadn’t seen that excellent news about red wine. Looks like we have 45 cases of medicine in the cellar :)

  18. Youie
    June 18th, 2008 at 23:44 | #18

    Coffee: Not at all addictive for me (ie no withdrawals if I don’t have any for a day or longer) but a nice start to the day, along with…

    Nicotine: Quite addictive, very hard to not have a ciggie every hour or two, and especially when drinking coffee or…

    Alcohol: Frighteningly addictive. Can’t remember the last time I didn’t have a drink for anything more than a few days. The sauce of all my woes…

    Marijuana: Not addictive, though I know some regular smokers who get pretty grumpy if they haven’t had some for a few days. Only been paranoid twice in my life, and both times I blame showing off how big a bucket I could hit…

    Amphetamines/speed: When the goods are in front of you, you want more; long-term desire is no stronger than the same feeling you have when you say “Geez I’d kill for a beer,” after a busy week.

    Ecstasy: Can’t talk any more, my jaw hurts :)

    Cocaine: same as speed. When’s your mate supposed to be getting here?

  19. Ender
    June 19th, 2008 at 09:46 | #19

    My experiences of drugs:

    Alcohol: 2 alcoholic parents. Father prematurely dead from liver failure – missed all my children. Mother a recovering alcoholic after a fall that nearly killed her.
    Wife – 2 alcoholic parents – father dead from lung cancer, mother in nursing home with dementia.
    Son – alcoholic – every other week has massive fight with partner and we pick up the pieces and take care of grandchild.

    Marijuana(plus everything else) – Son – 5 years of him living on the street not knowing if he was dead or alive starting with a couple of cones of hydro a day building to 25 a day – totally addictive. I missed out on 5 years of my youngest daughter’s life coping with drug addicted teenager. He ended up in the locked ward of Greylands for six months.

    For some strange reason I do not drink anymore, nor smoke however I do have coffee.

    Please do not glorify drugs to me – the people here posting here have been lucky and flirted with dangerous things and got away with it – a lot don’t. The ones that don’t leave a trail of devastation behind them that they are blithely unaware of until they hit rock bottom where they either die or get better.

  20. PeterRickwood
    June 19th, 2008 at 11:33 | #20

    Wow ender, I can barely conceive how difficult such a life could be.

    I will now more happily take my own worries, and be thankful they are not greater.

  21. Ender
    June 19th, 2008 at 11:44 | #21

    PeterRickwood – “Wow ender, I can barely conceive how difficult such a life could be.”

    Actually life is fine – people have far worse than this and I am grateful that things did not turn out worse. Sort of regret posting it now however it is amazing how resilient people can be.

    It just strikes a very sensitive nerve with me people trivialising the massive problem we have with drugs hence the post.

    Al-Anon (the support group for family members) has far more members than AA. For every one AA member there are 5 or 6 fathers, mothers brothers, sisters and friends in Al-Anon. Thank goodness they exist.

  22. Donald Oats
    June 19th, 2008 at 13:48 | #22

    It is good that coffee is good for the ticker. As Ikonoclast (#5) makes clear though, when it comes to any drug/medication the individual may respond very differently to the “average person.”

    Through my own trevails with chronic pain and an amazingly confused mess of a medical system, I have experienced side-effects of medications I didn’t even want in the first place. GPs know that side-effects and drug interactions abound, yet have sceptical reactions to reports of the less common side-effects. As a consequence I’ve spent some effort learning about the metabolism of a number of drugs and pro-drugs, such as codeine.

    Ikonoclast #5 says the codeine causes the upchuck reaction. A particular liver enzyme, the gene of which is known as CYP2D6, is entirely responsible for the conversion of codeine to morphine. People with the upchuck syndrome typically have more copies of this gene (with normal function), meaning that they cop the morphine impact much faster and harder than the general population. They are called UM for Ultra-extensive metabolisers. Panadeine Forte is not for them as it may be fatal; certainly extremely unpleasant :-(

    On the other hand, some unlucky bastards like me seem to be PM (poor-) or IM (intermediate-), meaning only a minor effect unless taken at large doses. Most people are EM (extensive-). As a caucasian, the odds of being PM are about 8-10%, while UM is around 1%.

    The CYP2D6 gene is not inducible (unlike other cytochrome P450 genes involved in metabolising exobiotics), meaning roughly that it has a fixed maximum speed of production of enzyme. However, many CNS (central nervous system) drugs, such as anti-depressants, relaxants, and some pain medications, can inhibit the CYP2D6 enzyme as much as 50-fold, effectively rendering codeine inert. Fluoxetine and venlafaxine are two anti-depressants known to strongly inhibit CYP2D6 in many people (ie prozac/lovan, and effexor).

    My experience so far is that most doctors do not know this about codeine, so heaven help anyone needing more unusual medication combinations.

    I think I need a coffee for the ticker now…

  23. Donald Oats
    June 19th, 2008 at 14:07 | #23

    As a follow-up, my own personal experience is that if you respond unusually to codeine (either upchuck or lack of effect), be very cautious if you are prescribed tramadol for pain as an alternative. Tramadol also needs CYP2D6 genes in order to function effectively as a pain reliever.

    In my case, I had to see a different doctor to my family doctor, and this was at the same clinic. The GP stopped my family doctor’s medication, put me on tramadol, and sent me on my way.

    Tramadol gave me shocking motion-sickness and boy I wouldn’t have wanted to drive anywhere while using it. A whole host of other side-effects made it a thoroughly unpleasant period of time. Pain relief seemed to be a secondary effect rather than the principle one, but hey, the GP read in a pharma-brochure that tramadol is safe. Good evidence-based medicine, that.

    Finally, I stopped taking it – bad pain was better than bad medication. Upon ceasing, the case of flu I thought I caught (fever, night sweats, shaking, aching joints, fatigue) turned out to be withdrawal.

    Quite a number of people do use tramadol to good effect and with only mild side-effects, if any. This just underscores the need for a decent burial of one-size-fits-all prescribing habits of GPs.

    Double espresso please…

  24. gerard
    June 19th, 2008 at 14:38 | #24

    I know my drugs, and alcohol is indeed one of the most dreadful of all drugs. what I find astonishing is that during this period of national ‘debate’ about binge drinking, nobody seems to be pointing out the fact that alcohol, despite its enormously destructive and toxic physical and behavioral effects, remains totally legal and accepted, while marijuana, which by all scientific standards is much less physically damaging and obviously does not cause anywhere near the same extent of idiotic behavior, remains criminal. It is insane. if there is one drug that should be illegal it is alcohol, along with perhaps heroin. definitely not LSD; it is evil of governments to deny humans the profoundly moving, spiritual experience that comes from the exploration of ones subconscious mind. alcohol and tobacco are two most vile, deadly, addictive, destructive drugs with next to no redeeming features are celebrated as a normal part of life, while the insane legal system prohibits the use of other substances which are nowhere near as bad for you.

  25. gerard
    June 19th, 2008 at 15:08 | #25

    now this poor bugger is off to jail, for doing nothing worse than any vintner

    http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,23887821-29277,00.html

  26. Youie
    June 19th, 2008 at 18:24 | #26

    Don’t get me wrong, Ender; I’m not glorifying drug use, just pointing out (as if it needed to be…) that one person’s lived experiences can differ from another’s.

    My brother for example: Drinking and dope since early teens, shooting up speed at 17, regular poly-drug use over a period of years, fights with all of his mates (not to mention Mum and Dad), mentally disturbed and aggressive as a rule these days. But he’s so nice when he hasn’t been drinking, Dad moans; and when he’s been taking his medication too.

    Me? Maybe I was lucky in that I didn’t start drinking till I was 22, and drugs other than dope didn’t make an appearance till my mid-late 20s. But when it comes to drug use, most people seem to be lucky.

    And in saying that, don’t forget the insidious effects of prescription drugs. There’s a considerable black market (maybe co-op would be a better term) for things like Valium and benzos among young women in particular. “So-and-so’s sister’s got a new scrip…”

  27. Ender
    June 20th, 2008 at 09:36 | #27

    Youie – “Don’t get me wrong, Ender; I’m not glorifying drug use, just pointing out (as if it needed to be…) that one person’s lived experiences can differ from another’s.”

    I realise this and I apologise. This is not the first time this raw nerve has led to embarrasment – somtimes you hit the submit button before thinking.

    However I do agree with another poster that probably the worst drug we have is alcohol however I do not think that we need more drugs to be available. Our house drugs policy started with (what I thought) was enlightened tolerance however it swiftly descended into education and zero tolerance for the other kids.

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