The Genes in Your Coffee (and Cancer-Protective Compounds)

Quick: what do tea, chocolate and coffee all have in common? There’s actually a lot they share – including many cancer-protective compounds – but for all who answered caffeine, that’s the big one.CoffeeBeansCup_dreamstime_13158097_blog

Now a research team has sequenced a draft of the genome of the coffee plant, finding that the caffeine compound has probably evolved independently of tea or chocolate. The researchers sequenced the plant Coffea canephora, which reportedly accounts for almost a third of the world’s coffee production.

The study was published on Friday in Science.

In all, the scientists identified about 25,000 protein-producing genes in the plant. (Humans have approximately 21,000 genes.) When they compared the coffee genome to the DNA of tea and chocolate they found coffee’s caffeine enzymes are more closely related to other genes within the coffee plant than to caffeine enzymes in tea and chocolate.

Compared to the grape and tomato, the coffee plant contains larger families of genes that relate to the production of flavonoid and other compounds, which contribute to the smell of coffee and are studied for their health benefits. Continue reading


Study: Aerobic Fitness Lowers Risk for Cancer Mortality

Need another reason to build exercise into your week, month and so on? Here comes one, with a new analysis of the research suggesting that those who are the most aerobically fit for better heart health have almost half the risk of dying from cancer compared to those least fit. The study was published in the Annals of Oncology.Top View Of A Pair Of Shoes With Laces Making Heart Shape On Woo

With heart disease and cancer the top two causes of death in the US, the analysis adds to a growing body of evidence that people can protect against top diseases with similar healthy lifestyles.

This study focused on a physical fitness indicator often used for heart health called cardiorespiratory or aerobic fitness. In order to produce energy, our exercising muscle cells need to pull oxygen from the blood. Cardiorespiratory fitness measures how well muscles get oxygen when exercising at a high intensity by looking at the maximal volume of oxygen used (called the VO2 max).

Cardio or aerobic exercises that get your heart rate up and your blood moving – jogging, biking and dancing — help improve your cardiorespiratory fitness. Continue reading


Resistant Starch May Reduce Red-Meat Colorectal Cancer Risk

Eating high amounts of red meat increase risk of colorectal cancer while fiber-filled food reduces the risk, AICR research shows. Now comes a study that offers one possible explanation for both links, finding that diets high in red meat and a type of non-digestable fiber have opposite effects on a group of genetic molecules.Chuckwagon Chili Con Carne

The study was published in Cancer Prevention Research.

Study researchers focused on a type of fiber called resistant starch. Our bodies don’t digest resistant starch in the small intestine. Then in the gut, bacteria convert resistant starch into the compound butyrate. In lab studies, this compound protects against colon cancer.

For the study, 23 participants, ages 50 to 75, switched between two types of diets. In one diet each person was given 300 grams — about 10 ounces — of raw lean red meat a day. That’s about the equivalent of a cooked 8 ounce burger. The other diet had the same red-meat content plus a butyrate resistant starch formulation. Each person was on one diet for four weeks then after a four-week washout period, switched to the second diet for four weeks. Continue reading