Health & Fitness

Let that scalding coffee cool a bit

Insight Coffee barista Vincent Jiron makes a latte on Tuesday, July 30, 2013 in downtown Sacramento.
Insight Coffee barista Vincent Jiron makes a latte on Tuesday, July 30, 2013 in downtown Sacramento.

A large study conducted by researchers at the World Health Organization has revealed that, contrary to earlier findings, coffee and the plant-based drink yerba mate are not as carcinogenic as previously thought, so long as they aren’t served at high temperatures.

The scientists downgraded coffee from “possibly carcinogenic,” and mate from “probably carcinogenic,” to safe for consumption as long as the drinks are not scalding hot, according to a news release from the University of Southern California. Mariana Stern, an associate professor of preventive medicine and urology at USC, was one of 22 researchers who looked at 1,000 studies on over 20 different types of cancer. Their conclusion was published in The Lancet on June 15.

They determined that drinking a cup of coffee reduces the risk of liver cancer by 15 percent. But beverages hotter than 149 degrees Fahrenheit may cause cancer of the esophagus.

“Enjoy your coffee or mate, but make sure it’s not very hot,” said Stern in the news release. “There is physical evidence that very hot beverages can contribute to cell injury in the esophagus and thus contribute to cancer formation.”

Diabetic moms more likely to have autism-linked fetal antibodies

New research from the UC Davis MIND Institute published this month finds that antibodies in women’s bodies that are believed to possibly cause autism in their children are more common in mothers with metabolic conditions such as gestational and Type 2 diabetes.

The new study, published in the journal Autism Research, found that diabetic women were three times more likely to have anti-fetal brain antibodies than non-diabetic women. Women with other metabolic conditions, such as high blood pressure and elevated body mass index, also had a higher prevalence of the antibodies, the researchers found.

A total of 227 pairs of mother and children participated in the study, of which 145 children exhibited symptoms of severe autism. Previous UC Davis studies showed that about a quarter of mothers of children with autism present specific patterns of antibodies that attack fetal brain proteins, possibly causing the neurodevelopmental condition to appear in early childhood.

Paula Krakowiak, a researcher affiliated with the MIND Institute, said in a news release that the study shows the importance of encouraging “women who are planning a pregnancy to achieve a healthier pre-pregnancy weight through changes in diet and physical activity, and if a mother was diagnosed with a metabolic condition to keep a closer watch on the baby’s development.”

Children’s toys could be disease carrier

Researchers from Georgia State University have clocked exactly how long influenza and other diseases can stay on a plastic kids toy: 10 to 24 hours, depending on the humidity.

The study, published June 23 in The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal, was the first to look specifically at enveloped viruses, or viruses with a protective outer layer such as influenza, severe acute respiratory syndrome or Middle East respiratory syndrome.

After testing the viruses on a flexible plastic frog toy, researchers were able to recover complete viral particles from the toy up to 24 hours after its contamination at 60 percent relative humidity, and up to 10 hours at 40 percent relative humidity.

Homes, doctors’ offices, and day care sites should be kept at lower humidity to help combat lingering diseases, the researchers suggested in a news release. Toys should be decontaminated often with household bleach.

Sammy Caiola: 916-321-1636, @SammyCaiola