Drink Four Cups of Coffee a Day and You Could Live Longer, Study Says

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If you drink at least one cup of coffee per day, you're in the company of 54 percent of American adults who do the same. Raise your daily consumption levels any higher and you'll venture into the territory of more devoted coffee fanatics. But enjoying coffee in moderation isn't the only way to reap the beverage's health benefits. As one study suggests, having four cups of coffee a day can lower your risk of early death.

The new research, which was released by the European Society of Cardiology, includes data from nearly 20,000 participants in Spain. The volunteers entered the study at an average age of 37.7 years old and were asked about their food and coffee-drinking habits as well as their health history and lifestyle choices.

After about 10 years, the subjects were revisited. Researchers found that those who reported drinking at least four cups of coffee a day were 64 percent more likely to avoid dying early than those who barely drank coffee at all. With each additional two cups the study participants consumed per day, their risk of all-cause mortality was cut by another 22 percent.

Lead study author Adela Navarro told The Telegraph that these results are likely tied to coffee's anti-inflammatory properties. Coffee is rich in antioxidants called polyphenols, which help prevent a variety of ailments like heart disease and Alzheimer's. The work of such compounds is most notable in coffee drinkers over a certain age, according to the study. While participants age 45 and older lowered their risk of dying by 30 percent with each additional two cups of coffee they drank, the younger subjects showed no significant correlation.

Of course, any new study that touts the life-saving benefits of coffee must be weighed against previous research on the negative effects of caffeine addiction. That means you shouldn't automatically boost your coffee intake to four cups a day and expect to get healthier without changing other aspects of your lifestyle. But if those four cups are already a part of your routine, you can continue to chug them down relatively guilt-free.

Pioneering Heart Surgeon René Favaloro Is Being Honored With a Google Doodle

Dr. René Favaloro (left) pictured with colleague Dr. Mason Sones.
Dr. René Favaloro (left) pictured with colleague Dr. Mason Sones.
The Cleveland Clinic Center for Medical Art & Photography, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 4.0

Argentinian heart surgeon René Favaloro is the subject of today’s Google Doodle, which features a sketched portrait of the doctor along with an anatomical heart and several medical tools, The Independent reports.

The renowned doctor was born on this day in 1923 in La Plata, the capital of Argentina’s Buenos Aires province, and pursued a degree in medicine at La Plata University. After 12 years as a doctor in La Pampa, where he established the area’s first mobile blood bank, trained nurses, and built his own operating room, Favaloro relocated to the U.S. to specialize in thoracic surgery at the Cleveland Clinic.

In 1967, Favaloro performed coronary bypass surgery on a 51-year-old woman whose right coronary artery was blocked, restricting blood flow to her heart. Coronary bypass surgery involves taking a healthy vein from elsewhere in the body (in this case, Favaloro borrowed from the patient’s leg, but you can also use a vein from the arm or chest), and using it to channel the blood from the artery to the heart, bypassing the blockage. According to the Mayo Clinic, it doesn’t cure whatever heart disease that caused the blocked artery, but it can relieve symptoms like chest pain and shortness of breath, and it gives patients time to make other lifestyle changes to further manage their disease.

Favaloro wasn’t keen on being called the “father” of coronary bypass surgery, but his work brought the procedure to the forefront of the clinical field. He moved back to Argentina in 1971 and launched the Favaloro Foundation to train surgeons and treat a variety of patients from diverse economic backgrounds.

Favaloro died by suicide on July 29, 2000, at the age of 77, by a gunshot wound to the chest. His wife had died several years prior, and his foundation had fallen deeply into debt, which Argentinian hospitals and medical centers declined to help pay, The New York Times reported at the time.

“As a surgeon, Dr. Favaloro will be remembered for his ingenuity and imagination,” his colleague Dr. Denton A. Cooley wrote in a tribute shortly after Favaloro’s death. “But as a man ... he will be remembered for his compassion and selflessness.” Today would have been his 96th birthday.

[h/t The Independent]

A Simple Way to Cure Brain Freeze Quickly

vitapix/iStock via Getty Images
vitapix/iStock via Getty Images

As one of life’s simple pleasures, ice cream should not have the capacity to cause spontaneous and agonizing pain immediately after ingestion. Yet ice cream and other extremely cold food frequently catches us off-guard by inciting what is known as “brain freeze” or “ice cream headache.” Fortunately, there’s a way to alleviate this harsh side effect.

According to Johns Hopkins University, a bout of radiating pain in your head after eating cold food is known as cold neuralgia or sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia. It’s likely caused by your body entering survival mode when it detects a freezing temperature on the palate (roof) of the mouth: our system constricts blood vessels in the palate to preserve our core temperature. When they rapidly open back up, a pain signal is sent to the brain via the trigeminal nerve. Since that nerve leads directly to the midface and forehead, your face bears the brunt of the referred pain from the mouth.

A brain freeze typically lasts less than five minutes. But when your head is throbbing, that can feel like forever. To minimize the pain, the best strategy is to warm the palate up. You can do this by pressing your tongue or a thumb against the roof of your mouth, by drinking a warm liquid, or both. Covering your face and breathing into your hands can also warm the air inside your mouth that was chilled by the ice cream.

If you want to take preventive measures, avoid gulping cold drinks and take smaller bites. Holding the ice cream in your mouth to warm it before swallowing can also reduce the potential for a painful end to your cone or slushy drink.

[h/t Johns Hopkins Medicine]

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