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scientific affairs

Coffee v. Kidney Stones

Scientists have confirmed an association between coffee and a reduced risk of kidney stones. Examining the effects of liquids on kidney stone development, they found varying impacts among different liquids. Integrating results from three large clinical trials, their analysis showed that some sodas and punch appeared to increase the risk, while coffee and wine reduced it.

The coffee effect appears to increase with consumption. Participants who drank one or more cups of coffee a day had a 26% lower risk of developing kidney stones, as compared with those who drank coffee less than once a week. The protection was incremental, with relative risk reduction increasing with consumption levels: 3% for those who consumed coffee once a week, 6% for those who drank two to four times a week, and 16% for five to six times a week.

The effect remained steady for decaffeinated coffee as well. Decaf drinkers who consumed one or more cups of coffee per day showed a 16% lower risk compared with those who drank it less than once a week. While risk levels were higher by 3% for those who drank decaf just once a week, reductions were significant for other consumption levels: 8% for two to four times a week, and 23% for five to six times a week. Although caffeine is known to reduce kidney stone risk, the decaf results suggest that there are independent sources within coffee that contribute to the risk reduction.

For comparison, red and white wine also appears to deliver significant protection, culminating with a 31% reduction in daily consumers for red wine and 33% for white. Beer and liquor also exhibited protection levels for daily consumption at 41% and 12%, respectively, although protection levels for less frequent consumption did not increase incrementally with levels. Sugar-sweetened colas and non-colas did not fare as well, with daily consumption yielding respective 23% and 33% risk increases. Artificially sweetened colas and non-colas did better, with a risk reduction in colas of 9% albeit only for daily consumption, and for non-colas risk changes ranging from a 2% reduction to a 17% increase, depending on frequency. The researchers point to the fructose in the sugared beverages as the possible cause of the increased risk levels.

The study was conducted by Drs. Pietro Manuel Ferraro, Eric N. Taylor, Giovanni Gambaro and Gary C. Curhan. Subjects totaled 194,095 followed over a period of time ranging from eight to 13 years. That puts the combined reach of the study, integrating subjects and time followed, at 2,643,708 person-years. The study was published on May 15 in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (CJASN).

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The NCA Scientific Affairs Program

Remember when coffee was buffeted by myths about health risks? You got negative messages from your colleagues, doctor, family and maybe even the little voice in your own head.

Well, the weight’s now off our shoulders. The word is out, and it’s loud and clear. Scientists have found that coffee is a healthy beverage. The product of a natural plant, it’s no real surprise that coffee packs a salubrious punch, with thousands of antioxidants and other natural compounds.

The good news about coffee and health is everywhere. It’s practically part of coffee’s cultural DNA. By now, we’ve all heard about how coffee helps protect against diabetes, liver damage, colon cancer, gallstones, and even cognitive decline. We now know about coffee’s ergogenic properties, helping us run faster, jump higher, and do so with less leg pain.

It’s been a remarkable turnaround. What happened, you might wonder. How did the new findings emerge? Who found them and teed them up for attention? What explains the shift in conclusions? Who spread the good word?

Scientific Program
For the answers, look no further than the NCA Scientific Affairs Program. NCA is the industry’s eyes, ears and minds when it comes to scientific inquiry on coffee and health. Its program is the only one of its kind, serving the U.S. industry with unique expertise and authority.

Through a comprehensive program, NCA keeps a daily finger on the pulse of scientific inquiry about coffee and health. The program spans all aspects of coffee science and its implications for consumers and the industry:
• Tracking and analysis of research on coffee and caffeine
• Science-based perspective on food safety legislation and regulation
• Expertise in food chemistry, toxicology and epidemiology, along with implications for physiological and environmental exposure
• Acknowledged influence in worldwide scientific circles
• Active collaboration with leading food and environmental safety organizations.

At the program’s core is a dedicated committee of leading industry scientists with decades of expertise in epidemiology, toxicology, biochemistry, medicine, food quality/safety and quality assurance. In fact, the committee is one of just a few, highly respected organizations devoted to the study of coffee science around the world.

Through the committee and other research channels, NCA tracks, flags and analyzes every reputable study done on coffee, caffeine and health worldwide. Through scientific journals, online search, and “institutional memory” compiled over many years, NCA has amassed the industry’s most comprehensive database of scientific literature on coffee and health.

Regulatory Issues
Another program function is applying scientific knowledge and perspective to navigating science-based business, legal, regulatory and legislative issues. NCA regularly surveys and analyzes regulatory constructs built around food safety, environmental exposures, and ingredient and nutritional information. Applying scientific expertise to the parameters and applications of government regulations is key to the industry’s understanding, compliance and protection.

Science, in fact, is taking on larger significance in legal and regulatory challenges and is increasingly critical to the industry’s protection. In California, notably, coffee manufacturers and retailers have been sued under the state’s Proposition 65 on the basis of acrylamide, which is formed naturally in the cooking process, just as it is in breads, cereals, potato chips and other foods.

And, the challenges will not be limited to California. As food analytics get more and more sophisticated, scientists and regulators are “chasing zero” to find miniscule traces of chemical compounds in foods. Already, acrylamide and other heat-formed substances are on the radar of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Health Canada and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), among other governmental entities and research institutions.

Beyond monitoring and analysis, NCA also invites worthy proposals for original research. Generally, accepted studies address important avenues of research into the health effects of coffee and caffeine and are later published in prestigious, peer-reviewed scientific journals. Over the years, NCA has funded nearly 80 original investigations or scientific reviews on coffee and health issues.

Communications
NCA has also put its research and analysis to good use by communicating the good news about coffee and health. Dating back to around 2000, the science coming out of labs around the world began to turn positive. In simple terms, scientific methodologies were getting better, and results reflected the elimination of “confounding factors” – bad habits like smoking and unhealthy diets – that got lumped together in the findings that had created the negative coffee myths. Once coffee was isolated out of the mix, the tide quickly turned.

NCA noticed that something interesting was going on. But the good news would remain buried in scientific journals that few professionals, no less consumers, would ever read. So, NCA brought the scientific committee and the public relations committee together, and the result was the highly successful Coffee Delivers! communications campaign to get the word out about the newly found health benefits. A billion media impressions later, the good news became today’s common knowledge.

For more information about NCA’s Scientific Affairs Program, keep an eye out for a new, dedicated section on www.ncausa.org that will focus on NCA’s scientific affairs activities. Additional information about legislative and regulatory issues are currently available in dedicated website sections. If you have questions, you can also contact NCA communications director Joe DeRupo at jfderupo@ncausa.org.

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