The Benefits of Coffee

Recently, there have been numerous studies indicating that drinking three cups of coffee per day may be beneficial to health rather than cause other health problems. There has often been a grey area associated with coffee and caffeine and the study sheds some more light onto this area.

“Roasted coffee is a complex mixture of over 1000 bioactive compounds, some with potentially therapeutic antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antifibrotic, or anticancer effects that provide biological plausibility for recent epidemiological associations.”

The study showed that there were 19 positive outcomes, 6 negative outcomes and 34 neutral health outcomes to drinking coffee. It is clear that the positives outweigh the negatives, however due to the small sample size and high frequency of neutral results we simply cannot ascertain whether or not the consumption of caffeine is positive, for now it has a ‘clean bill of health’.

Coffee consumption is associated with a decrease in rates of death associated with cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease and stroke. The study has shown that the largest reduction in health risks occurs when someone drinks three cups of coffee per day. There were also variations in accordance with sex. Women often received greater benefits from drinking coffee for coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease however the reduction of risk of stroke had a more pronounced affect in men.

There was an overall reduction in risk of cancer for coffee drinkers however this varied with whether or not the person was a smoker or not. “In a separate article, in non-smokers there was a 2% lower risk of mortality from cancer for exposure of one extra cup a day.”

There were negative associations with drinking coffee when pregnant and an increase risk of fracture in women. At present data available is of low quality and many believe that randomised control trials will be needed to accurately research this area.



Vaginal Mesh Implants

At present, the vaginal mesh implant scandal has been compared to the thalidomide scandal which plagued women of the 1960s and their infants.

The synthetic polypropylene implants were used as an alternative to more invasive procedures for the treatment of urinary incontinence and prolapse that occurs after childbirth. Many patients began to complain about chronic pain, bladder spasms and continual pelvic pain due to the mesh cutting through vaginal tissue as well as an inability to walk after sex.

The mesh implant launched by Johnson & Johnson without a clinical trial has led to law suits on all fronts and an estimated $57 million dollars was given to one woman alone as compensation.

It was revealed earlier this year that over 800 women will be taking legal action against the NHS for its part in the scandal. Thousands of woman had been advised to have tension-free vaginal tape surgery across the United Kingdom. Over 92,000 women have had these implants from 2007-2015. Despite having the implants being removed, many women will have to deal with permanent side effects both psychological and physical. A campaign known as Sling the Mesh has been launched.

Professor Carl Heneghan from the University of Oxford compared the scandal to the thalidomide scandal as the thalidomide scandal resulted in an immediate change in drug regulation and this scandal will do the same with the regulation of devices and implants.

Many have criticised the medical proffession and doctors of all ranking after the scandal. There was a desperate need to have stricter regulations and a better approach to the complaints made by women post-operatively as this could have resulted in many of them not having to deal with permanant side effects. This scandal has been incredibly eye opening and will hopefully result in stricter regulations worldwide when dealing with implantation of devices.



Malaria Breath Tests

In recent news it has been made apparent that we can now test for the presence of malaria using breath tests. This will make diagnosis more streamlined and more accessible for those in rural and impoverished areas who may be unable to access adequate healthcare.

Malaria is a life threatening disease caused by Plasmodium parasites transmitted to humans through the Anopheles mosquito. There have been more than 400,000 deaths associated with malaria in the past year. In those who are not immune, symptoms usually appear around 5-10 days after the initial bite. The usual symptoms that follow are fevers, chills and headaches, however due to the nature of these symptoms it can be incredibly difficult to accurately diagnose.

The prototype invented was used to detect 6 different odours to detect malaria. This non-invasive and relatively cheap method compared to analysing blood samples is currently being tested and has recently achieved a success rate of 83% when detecting malaria in children. Despite this seemingly positive figure, the prototype has not yet been mass-produced as additional testing is needed due to the small nature of the group under study. This method also does not require any technical expertise; staff do not need to be trained to use it. Therefore, it can be used in rural areas by villagers to test one another for the presence of the malarial parasite. The rapid testing devices operate by detecting the presence of the protein HRP2 in the breath of its users. Unfortunately, some malarial strains e.g. Plasmodium falciparum have mutated and are now beginning to stop producing this particular protein. As well as the original six odours the scientists were testing for they found high concentrations of terpenes. Terpenes are molecules that are usually associated with the odour from pine trees and conifers and are natural attractants for mosquitos.

“Prof James Logan from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said: “The rapid detection of asymptomatic malaria is a challenge for malaria control and will be essential as we move towards achieving the goal of malaria elimination. A new diagnostic tool, based on the detection of volatiles associated with malaria infection is exciting.””