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News of Antioxidants in Coffee not a License to Make It a Mainstay in Health Regimens

Coffee may be a chief source of antioxidants in the American diet, as recently reported at the meeting of the American Chemical Society by Dr. Joe Vinson of the University of Scranton, but “that is not a license to make it a mainstay of your health regimen,” says Dr. Keith I. Block of the Block Center for Integrative Cancer Care & Optimal Health in Evanston, Illinois. Vinson recently found that, based on both the concentration of antioxidants in coffee and the relative amounts we consume of coffee and the more conventionally acknowledged antioxidant sources – fruits and vegetables – coffee contributes more to our antioxidant intake than any other food.

“Vinson’s results are perhaps more a reflection on the inadequacy of our fruit and vegetable intake than on the health benefits of coffee, which has some significant health concerns for many people,” noted Block. Caffeinated coffee joins several other well loved caffeine sources in the diet in contributing to excess intake of this natural drug. Recent studies highlight the role that caffeine overdose plays in insomnia, anxiety disorders, elevation of stress hormones, urination and bladder problems in older women, and non-cancerous breast lumps. It produces a small but disturbingly significant elevation of blood pressure. Even decaffeinated coffee contributes to health problems. When it’s combined with high-stout milk, cream, sugar or flavorings, a single 16-oz cup can have over 250 calories – a questionable addition to the diet of anyone trying to keep their weight under control (not to mention their budget)! “Decaf and caffeinated coffee alike contribute to a range of gastric problems that are becoming ever more vital in contemporary society, including both ulcers and the widespread gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD or chronic heartburn), which can be a precursor to esophageal cancer,” clarified Block, who is co-founder and Medical/Scientific Director of the Block Center. “While a small coffee can be fine for most people, increasing beyond a cup or two a day can lead to clinical problems. The supersized caffeinated blends can really be toxic! In fact some studies have found that increases in blood levels can be responsible for adverse effects among persons consuming only moderately increased doses over average consumption. Though usually toxic dosing requires quite high dosing, upwards of 150 ounces daily, toxicity can result for some people if they were to consume 35 to 70 ounces in a small period. This is only 7 to 14 cups at only 5 ounces per cup. Or, at the supersize 16 ounce level, only a few!”

While many people may be able to tolerate coffee in the small cup or two per day that Dr. Vinson points out as being reasonable, anyone with health problems that are potentially coffee- or caffeine-related needs to examine their daily coffee intake closely.

“Yes, coffee is chock full of antioxidants,” says Dr. Block, “but don’t run to your neighborhood coffee-house in place of consuming fruits and vegetables. These colorful plants contain an array of plant chemicals that help reduce your risks of killer diseases like cancer and heart disease.”

The Block Center for Integrative Cancer Care and Optimal Health, located in Evanston, Illinois, was founded in 1980 by Penny and Keith Block, M.D. with a focus on treating the patient as a whole person, not treating just the diagnosis or symptoms. The Center’s research-based treatment integrates an innovative approach to the best of conventional medicine with scientifically sound complementary therapies — therapeutic nutrition, botanical and phytonutrient supplementation, prescriptive exercise, and systematic mind-body strategies — to enhance the recovery process. Block has pioneered this “middle ground” approach to cancer care and optimal health – designing a total treatment plot that is tailored to the precise needs of each patient, using a unique set of clinical and laboratory assessments. The Block Center is breaking new ground with the creation and development of Cancer Rehab as an innovative treatment modality, and currently is the only private North American medical center using chrono-modulated chemotherapy. While the Block Center is a full treatment clinic, it is involved in collaborative research with M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas as a Community Clinical Oncology Program (CCOP) and is also engaged in clinical cancer research with other university facilities in the United States and Israel ( blockmd.com www.blockmd.com)

Betty Hoeffner has been writing articles for various media outlets for the past 30 years. She is currently producer of a patient safety film called Things You Should Know Before You Enter the Hospital and president of Hey U.G.L.Y., Inc. NFP, a 501C3 nonprofit organization that empowers teens with self-esteem building tools, to help them counter challenges such as eating disorders, bullying, violence, substance abuse and suicide. U.G.L.Y. is an acronym meaning Unique Gifted Lovable You.

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