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Coffee boost could help aging muscles, study finds


Score another point for coffee in the debate over its health effects.

A new study to be released at the Society of Experimental Biology, whose annual meeting is currently under way in Salzburg, Austria, argues that caffeine can help boost older muscles and could thereby help prevent falls and injuries among the elderly. The aim of the study was to determine whether the age of a muscle was a factor in how it reacted to caffeine.

Using two different types of muscles from mice – the diaphragm and a leg muscle – sports-medicine researchers from Coventry University in Britain observed that elderly muscles were still stimulated by caffeine, though less so than younger adult muscles. The study's main author Jason Tallis said that "despite a reduced effect in the elderly, caffeine may still provide performance-enhancing benefits."

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This comes after a U.S. study published in The New England Journal of Medicine indicated that coffee drinkers were less likely to die from various diseases such as stroke or respiratory illness. As The New York Times reported last month, this could be because of various antioxidants found in coffee (although some coffee drinkers often have other habits which aren't so good, such as smoking).

Researchers urge caution in drawing major correlations in these studies between coffee and health. The point of the Coventry University study's results is the boost, though diminished, caffeine provides to elderly muscles. But as a stimulant, it still carries the risk of higher blood pressure and an increased heart rate.

The debate is likely far from over.

Would you change how much coffee you drink as a result of health studies?

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About the Author

Guy Dixon is a feature writer for The Globe and Mail. More


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