Caffeine improves recognition of positive words

2-3 cups of coffee improve brain processing of positive, but not negative or neutral words

Caffeine perks up most coffee-lovers, but a new study shows a small dose of caffeine also increases their speed and accuracy for recognizing words with positive connotation. The research published November 7 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Lars Kuchinke and colleagues from Ruhr University, Germany, shows that caffeine enhances the neural processing of positive words, but not those with neutral or negative associations.

Previous research showed that caffeine increases activity in the central nervous system, and normal doses of caffeine improve performance on simple cognitive tasks and behavioral responses. It is also known that certain memories are enhanced when strong positive or negative emotions are associated with objects, but the link between caffeine consumption and these emotional biases was unknown.

This study demonstrates, for the first time, that consuming 200 mg of caffeine, equivalent to 2-3 cups of coffee, 30 minutes before a task can improve the implicit recognition of positive words, but has no effect on the processing of emotionally neutral or negative words. The authors suggest that this effect is driven by caffeine’s strong dopaminergic effects in the language-dominant regions of the brain.

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Citation: Kuchinke L, Lux V (2012) Caffeine Improves Left Hemisphere Processing of Positive Words. PLoS ONE 7(11): e48487. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0048487


Low prevalence of type 2 diabetes among regular black tea drinkers

Study backs other research suggesting beneficial link between black tea and development of diabetes

The prevalence of type 2 diabetes is low in countries where consumption of black tea is high, suggests a mathematical analysis of data from 50 countries, published in the online journal BMJ Open.

The global prevalence of type 2 diabetes has increased six-fold over the past few decades, and the International Diabetes Federation calculates that the number of those with the disease will soar from 285 million in 2010 to 438 million in 2030.

The authors systematically mined information on black (fermented) tea consumption in 50 countries across every continent, based on 2009 sales data collected by an independent specialist market research company.

And they analysed World Health Organization data for those same countries on the prevalence of respiratory, infectious, and cardiovascular diseases, as well as cancer and diabetes.

Ireland topped the league table for black tea drinkers, at more than 2 kg/year per person, closely followed by the UK and Turkey. At the bottom of the table were South Korea, Brazil, China, Morocco and Mexico, with very low consumption.

A statistical approach, called principal component analysis (PCA), was used to tease out the key contribution of black tea on each of the health indicators selected at the population level.

This showed an impact for black tea on rates of diabetes, but not on any of the other health indicators studied.

The link was confirmed with further statistical analysis, which pointed to a strong linear association between low rates of diabetes in countries where consumption of black tea is high.

The authors acknowledge several caveats to their findings, however.

They caution that the quality and consistency of data among all 50 countries are likely to vary, as will the criteria used to diagnose diabetes. And what may seem positive at the population level may not work as well as the individual level.

They also point out that various factors are likely to have contributed to the dramatic rise in diabetes prevalence, and that a link between black tea consumption and the prevalence of the disease does not imply that one is caused by the other.

But their findings do back those of previous research, they say.

“These original study results are consistent with previous biological, physiological, and ecological studies conducted on the potential of [black tea] on diabetes and obesity”…and they provide “valuable additional scientific information at the global level,” they write.

In recent years, a great deal of interest has focused on the health benefits of green tea, which contains simple flavonoids called catechins, thought to have anti-inflammatory properties, say the authors.

But the fermentation process, which turns green tea black, induces a range of complex flavonoids, including theaflavins and thearubigins, to which several potential health benefits have been attributed, they add.

Source: Eurekalert 7-Nov-2012


Study reveals how green tea boosts brain cell production to aid memory

It has long been believed that drinking green tea is good for the memory. Now researchers have discovered how the chemical properties of China’s favorite drink affect the generation of brain cells, providing benefits for memory and spatial learning. The research is published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research.

“Green tea is a popular beverage across the world,” said Professor Yun Bai from the Third Military Medical University, Chongqing, China. “There has been plenty of scientific attention on its use in helping prevent cardiovascular diseases, but now there is emerging evidence that its chemical properties may impact cellular mechanisms in the brain.”

Professor Bai’s team focused on the organic chemical EGCG, (epigallocatechin-3 gallate) a key property of green tea. While EGCG is a known anti-oxidant, the team believed it can also have a beneficial effect against age-related degenerative diseases.

“We proposed that EGCG can improve cognitive function by impacting the generation of neuron cells, a process known as neurogenesis,” said Bai. “We focused our research on the hippocampus, the part of the brain which processes information from short-term to long-term memory.”

The team found that ECGC boosts the production of neural progenitor cells, which like stem cells can adapt, or differentiate, into various types of cells. The team then used laboratory mice to discover if this increased cell production gave an advantage to memory or spatial learning.

“We ran tests on two groups of mice, one which had imbibed ECGC and a control group,” said Bai. “First the mice were trained for three days to find a visible platform in their maze. Then they were trained for seven days to find a hidden platform.”

The team found that the ECGC treated mice required less time to find the hidden platform. Overall the results revealed that EGCG enhances learning and memory by improving object recognition and spatial memory.

“We have shown that the organic chemical EGCG acts directly to increase the production of neural progenitor cells, both in glass tests and in mice,” concluded Bai. “This helps us to understand the potential for EGCG, and green tea which contains it, to help combat degenerative diseases and memory loss.”


Study: Ginseng-fortified milk and improved cognitive function

Amsterdam, The Netherlands, July 23, 2012 – American ginseng is reported to have neurocognitive effects, and research has shown benefits in aging, central nervous system disorders, and neurodegenerative diseases. The challenges of incorporating ginseng into food are twofold: it has a bitter taste, and food processing can eliminate its healthful benefits. Reporting in the August issue of the Journal of Dairy Science®, a group of scientists has formulated low-lactose functional milk that maintained beneficial levels of American ginseng after processing. An exploratory study found the product was readily accepted by a niche group of consumers.

“Our goal was to develop low-lactose milk that could be consumed by the elderly to improve cognitive function,” reports lead investigator S. Fiszman, PhD, of the Instituto de Agroquimica y Tecnologia de Alimentos (IATA), Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas (CSIC), Patema (Valencia), Spain. “Consumers who were interested in the health benefits of ginseng rated our product quite highly.”

Because older people frequently have trouble digesting milk products, the researchers developed a low-lactose formula. American ginseng was added, and then the milk was sterilized by ultra-high temperature processing (UHT), which prolongs shelf life. Analysis found that sufficient levels of ginseng remained in the milk after treatment to improve cognitive function as reported in the literature.

To reduce the bitter taste of American ginseng, the investigators developed samples with vanilla extract and sucralose, a zero-calorie artificial sweetener. In a preliminary study, 10 tasters with a good ability to discriminate between flavors compared low lactose UHT milk without any additives (the control) to low lactose milk with ginseng extract, vanilla aroma, and sucralose added before UHT treatment. They developed a list of 10 attributes that described the sample: color, sweet odor, milk flavor, vanilla flavor, metallic/root flavor, sweetness, bitterness, aftertaste, astringency, and viscosity. They then rated the intensity of each attribute for five samples; the control; the control with ginseng extract, vanilla aroma, and sucralose added; the control with ginseng extract added; the control with vanilla and ginseng extract; and the low lactose milk with ginseng extract; vanilla aroma; and sucralose added before UHT treatment.

In a second study, 100 participants were asked, on a scale of one to five, how willing they would be to consume a “highly digestible semi-skimmed milk,” and a “highly digestible semi-skimmed milk enriched with ginseng extract that would improve cognitive function.” Then, they tasted and rated, on a scale of one to nine, the overall acceptability of the control milk and the low lactose milk with ginseng extract, vanilla aroma, and sucralose added before UHT treatment.

Both the presence of ginseng and the thermal treatment affected some sensory properties of the milk. The addition of ginseng significantly increased the perceived light brown color in the flavored and unflavored samples, and was highest in the reduced-lactose milk with ingredients added before the UHT treatment. The sweet odor was more intense in flavored samples, but decreased slightly in the samples of milk with ingredients added before UHT treatment. Bitterness was clearly perceived in the samples containing ginseng additives, but was lower in flavored samples, indicating that the vanilla aroma and sucralose masked, to some extent, the bitter taste caused by ginseng extract.

Consumer responses varied greatly, depending on interest in the product. 78% indicated that they would be likely to consume the highly digestible milk, and after tasting the product, 87% of them indicated they would buy the sample. 47% indicated they were not interested in milk enriched with ginseng, and after tasting, they gave it a low acceptability rating. However, for the 32% of consumers who did express an interest in the product, 75% declared they would buy it.

“Drinking 150 to 300 mL of this ginseng-enriched milk would provide the amount indicated to be effective for improving cognitive functions. Combined with the low levels of lactose, this makes the drink an appropriate functional beverage for the elderly,” says Dr. Fiszman. “Among consumers more likely to consume ginseng products, the newly developed milk was well accepted. The addition of more congruent flavors such as chocolate, citrus, or coffee, could be more effective in masking non-milk-related sensory attributes, Other alternatives could be investigated.”

Commenting on the studies, Susan Duncan, PhD, professor, Department of Food Science & Technology, Virginia Tech, noted, “With the combination of intrinsic health benefits in milk and these additional ingredients, milk becomes an easy way to deliver valuable functional ingredients and the functional benefits of milk components. Diversifying the product line for milk and dairy products has a number of benefits, including market and consumer visibility and perception.”


Study: Moderate coffee consumption offers protection against heart failure

BOSTON – While current American Heart Association heart failure prevention guidelines warn against habitual coffee consumption, some studies propose a protective benefit, and still others find no association at all. Amidst this conflicting information, research from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center attempts to shift the conversation from a definitive yes or no, to a question of how much.

“Our results did show a possible benefit, but like with so many other things we consume, it really depends on how much coffee you drink,” says lead author Elizabeth Mostofsky, MPH, ScD, a post-doctoral fellow in the cardiovascular epidemiological unit at BIDMC. “And compared with no consumption, the strongest protection we observed was at about four European, or two eight-ounce American, servings of coffee per day.”

The study published June 26 online in the Journal Circulation: Heart Failure, found that these moderate coffee drinkers were at 11 percent lower risk of heart failure.

Data was analyzed from five previous studies – four conducted in Sweden, one in Finland – that examined the association between coffee consumption and heart failure. The self-reported data came from 140,220 participants and involved 6,522 heart failure events.

In a summary of the published literature, the authors found a “statistically significant J-shaped relationship” between habitual coffee consumption and heart failure, where protective benefits begin to increase with consumption maxing out at two eight-ounce American servings a day. Protection slowly decreases the more coffee is consumed until at five cups, there is no benefit and at more than five cups a day, there may be potential for harm.

It’s unclear why moderate coffee consumption provides protection from heart failure, but the researchers say part of the answer may lie in the intersection between regular coffee drinking and two of the strongest risk factors for heart failure – diabetes and elevated blood pressure.

“There is a good deal of research showing that drinking coffee lowers the risk for type 2 diabetes, says senior author Murray Mittleman, MD, DrPH, a physician in the Cardiovascular Institute at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and director of BIDMC’s cardiovascular epidemiological research program. “It stands to reason that if you lower the risk of diabetes, you also lower the risk of heart failure.”

There may also be a blood pressure benefit. Studies have consistently shown that light coffee and caffeine consumption are known to raise blood pressure. “But at that moderate range of consumption, people tend to develop a tolerance where drinking coffee does not pose a risk and may even be protective against elevated blood pressure,” says Mittleman.

This study was not able to assess the strength of the coffee, nor did it look at caffeinated versus non-caffeinated coffee.

“There is clearly more research to be done,” says Mostofsky. “But in the short run, this data may warrant a change to the guidelines to reflect that coffee consumption, in moderation, may provide some protection from heart failure.”

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Other study authors are Megan Rice, Sc.D., and Emily Levitan, Sc.D.

The research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health.


June Is ‘World Tea Month’ in Las Vegas

World Tea Expo, a Las Vegas-based Business, Kicks off Its Three-day Expo on June 1; Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority Hosts Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony

LAS VEGAS, May 30, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Will tea ever be as big as coffee? This week in Las Vegas, attendees of World Tea Expo (June 1 – 3), the largest global event for the tea industry, are asking just that. The event is held annually in Las Vegas by locally-based World Tea Media. In fact, tea might be winning the battle against coffee this week as Las Vegas MayorCarolyn G. Goodman says — via official proclamation — June is “World Tea Month,” in honor of the event’s 10-year anniversary.

Mayor Goodman’s official proclamation states: “In honor of World Tea Expo’s vision to develop the tea community and bring greater awareness to the tea industry, we declare June to be World Tea Month, to support World Tea Expo’s mission to strengthen the message of tea.”

World Tea Expo also kicks off National Iced Tea Month and features a special Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony, hosted by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

The Expo covers every aspect of tea — from leaf to cup — and it gathers some 4,000+ delegates from more than 50 countries. Indeed, all things tea will converge upon Las Vegas for a packed exhibit hall with the very best leafs, blends, pots and tea-related products, as well as the fiercely competitive 2012 Tea Infusion Challenge. Some 200+ vendors are set to showcase hundreds of the freshest new tea products — unique tea wares, delicious baked-goods, innovative tea products and specialized accessories and gifts. Many Las Vegas hotels, restaurants, spas, retailers and others are also attending World Tea Expo — the real “tea party” — to see the next big tea trends and tea products, and to learn about quality tea and how to profit from it.

What: World Tea Expo, Las Vegas Convention Center

When: June 1 – 3; Expo Hall Hours: Friday, June 1, 11 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.; Saturday, June 2, 11 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.; Sunday, June 3, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Highlights:

Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony, June 1, 5:30 p.m. — Just like the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) gathers people from around the world and welcomes them to Southern Nevada, so does the upcoming World Tea Expo Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony, which is appropriately hosted by the LVCVA. This special, not-often-seen-in-the-U.S. tea ceremony encourages all people — regardless of tea expertise — to partake and appreciate tea. The ceremony is of Taiwanese origin, created by Grand Master Tsai Rong Tsang, Lu-Yu Tea Culture Institute.

Tea Infusion Challenge, June 3, noon to 2:30 p.m. — For this event, competitors from around the country battle it out and judges determines the best Infusionist — a tea professional (non-manufacturer) that has comprehensive product knowledge, experienced brewing skills and innate talent to best express teas’ characteristics and intended cups. The exciting and interactive competition demonstrates how the same tea can taste drastically different depending on the method used to steep the tea. Official judges rate contenders on quality of infusion, harmonious extraction, passion for tea, etc.

SOURCE World Tea Expo


High blood caffeine levels in older adults linked to avoidance of Alzheimer’s disease

Tampa, FL (June 4, 2012) Those cups of coffee that you drink every day to keep alert appear to have an extra perk – especially if you’re an older adult. A recent study monitoring the memory and thinking processes of people older than 65 found that all those with higher blood caffeine levels avoided the onset of Alzheimer’s disease in the two-to-four years of study follow-up. Moreover, coffee appeared to be the major or only source of caffeine for these individuals.

Researchers from the University of South Florida (www.usf.edu) and the University of Miami (www.miami.edu)say the case control study provides the first direct evidence that caffeine/coffee intake is associated with a reduced risk of dementia or delayed onset. Their findings will appear in the online version of an article to be published June 5 in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, published by IOS Press (http://health.usf.edu/nocms/publicaffairs/now/pdfs/JAD111781.pdf). The collaborative study involved 124 people, ages 65 to 88, in Tampa and Miami.

“These intriguing results suggest that older adults with mild memory impairment who drink moderate levels of coffee — about 3 cups a day — will not convert to Alzheimer’s disease — or at least will experience a substantial delay before converting to Alzheimer’s,” said study lead author Dr. Chuanhai Cao, a neuroscientist at the USF College of Pharmacy (http://health.usf.edu/nocms/pharmacy/) and the USF Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute (http://health.usf.edu/nocms/byrd/). “The results from this study, along with our earlier studies in Alzheimer’s mice, are very consistent in indicating that moderate daily caffeine/coffee intake throughout adulthood should appreciably protect against Alzheimer’s disease later in life.”

The study shows this protection probably occurs even in older people with early signs of the disease, called mild cognitive impairment, or MCI. Patients with MCI already experience some short-term memory loss and initial Alzheimer’s pathology in their brains. Each year, about 15 percent of MCI patients progress to full-blown Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers focused on study participants with MCI, because many were destined to develop Alzheimer’s within a few years.

Blood caffeine levels at the study’s onset were substantially lower (51 percent less) in participants diagnosed with MCI who progressed to dementia during the two-to-four year follow-up than in those whose mild cognitive impairment remained stable over the same period.

No one with MCI who later developed Alzheimer’s had initial blood caffeine levels above a critical level of 1200 ng/ml – equivalent to drinking several cups of coffee a few hours before the blood sample was drawn. In contrast, many with stable MCI had blood caffeine levels higher than this critical level.

“We found that 100 percent of the MCI patients with plasma caffeine levels above the critical level experienced no conversion to Alzheimer’s disease during the two-to-four year follow-up period,” said study co-author Dr. Gary Arendash.

The researchers believe higher blood caffeine levels indicate habitually higher caffeine intake, most probably through coffee. Caffeinated coffee appeared to be the main, if not exclusive, source of caffeine in the memory-protected MCI patients, because they had the same profile of blood immune markers as Alzheimer’s mice given caffeinated coffee. Alzheimer’s mice given caffeine alone or decaffeinated coffee had a very different immune marker profile.

Since 2006, USF’s Dr. Cao and Dr. Arendash have published several studies investigating the effects of caffeine/coffee administered to Alzheimer’s mice. Most recently, they reported that caffeine interacts with a yet unidentified component of coffee to boost blood levels of a critical growth factor that seems to fight off the Alzheimer’s disease process.

“We are not saying that moderate coffee consumption will completely protect people from Alzheimer’s disease,” Dr. Cao cautioned. “However, we firmly believe that moderate coffee consumption can appreciably reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s or delay its onset.”

Alzheimer’s pathology is a process in which plaques and tangles accumulate in the brain, killing nerve cells, destroying neural connections, and ultimately leading to progressive and irreversible memory loss. Since the neurodegenerative disease starts one or two decades before cognitive decline becomes apparent, the study authors point out, any intervention to cut the risk of Alzheimer’s should ideally begin that far in advance of symptoms.

“Moderate daily consumption of caffeinated coffee appears to be the best dietary option for long-term protection against Alzheimer’s memory loss,” Dr. Arendash said. “Coffee is inexpensive, readily available, easily gets into the brain, and has few side-effects for most of us. Moreover, our studies show that caffeine and coffee appear to directly attack the Alzheimer’s disease process.”

In addition to Alzheimer’s disease, moderate caffeine/coffee intake appears to reduce the risk of several other diseases of aging, including Parkinson’s disease, stroke, Type II diabetes, and breast cancer. However, supporting studies for these benefits have all been observational (uncontrolled), and controlled clinical trials are needed to definitively demonstrate therapeutic value.

A study tracking the health and coffee consumption of more than 400,000 older adults for 13 years, and published earlier this year in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that coffee drinkers reduced their risk of dying from heart disease, lung disease, pneumonia, stroke, diabetes, infections, and even injuries and accidents.

With new Alzheimer’s diagnostic guidelines encompassing the full continuum of the disease, approximately 10 million Americans now fall within one of three developmental stages of Alzheimer’s disease — Alzheimer’s disease brain pathology only, MCI, or diagnosed Alzheimer’s disease. That number is expected to climb even higher as the baby-boomer generation continues to enter older age, unless an effective and proven preventive measure is identified.

“If we could conduct a large cohort study to look into the mechanisms of how and why coffee and caffeine can delay or prevent Alzheimer’s disease, it might result in billions of dollars in savings each year in addition to improved quality of life,” Dr. Cao said.

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The USF-UM study was funded by the NIH-designated Florida Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center and the State of Florida.


World Tea Expo, June 1 – 3, Shows What’s Hot in Tea Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/04/16/4418384/world-tea-expo-june-1-3-shows.html#storylink=cpy

LAS VEGAS, April 16, 2012 — /PRNewswire/ — World Tea Expo, the largest and most prominent B2B event for the tea industry, is preparing to present its 2012 Best New Product Award winners, June 1 – 3 in Las Vegas, Nev.

Winners include:

Tea Ware Category Winner

1660 Tasting Cups, by 1660 London

These cups are each shaped to enhance the drinking experience of green, black and fragrant teas. The concept is similar to connoisseur glasses that help certain wines release their maximum potential.

Innovation Winner

Slim Steeper Cold Brew Tea Infuser by The Tea Spot

The eco-friendly Slim Steeper works with disposable water bottles and loose leaf teas to make fresh tea on-the-go. Cold brew and drink tea in just 10 minutes; add more water and resteep.

Tea as an Ingredient Winner (tie)

Swirl Green Tea – Cold-Brewed On The Go!, by Breezy Spring LLC

Swirl is a trendy new concept that combines premium green tea with convenience. It’s unique, slender tea bag goes into a water bottle for brewing anywhere.

Tea as an Ingredient Winner (tie)

Indie Tea’s arTEAsan Magic Mushroom Spice Rub, by Indie Tea

This delicious, organic blend of roasted yerba mate porcini mushroom is infused with gourmet salt and savory spices like cumin, fennel, coriander, garlic, onions and more.

Tea Accessory Winner (tie)

Tea Traveler Tasting Collection, by Teas Etc.

The popular Tea Traveler, by Tea’s Etc., revolutionized premium loose-leaf tea on the go, and it’s now available in a fashionable gift collection, featuring traveler size and pre-measured packets of premium loose leaf tea.

Tea Accessory Winner (tie)

Tea-Themed Greeting Card Line, by Love and Scandal Tea Company

This new greeting card line features vintage photo images, contemporary, traditional and sometimes cheeky warm wishes, along with a bagged tea samples from renowned tea vendors. Baked Goods Winner

Farmhouse English Biscuits, by Imported direct by Tri-Connect, Inc.

Farmhouse English Biscuits is a family-owned and operated bakery located in the northern countryside of England. Their biscuits are made with grandma’s original recipe, traditionally baked with the finest ingredients.

Publication Winner

The User’s Guide To Scone Making and Scone Mixes by Victorian House Scones, from The Tea House Times

This concise guide is complete with photos, detailing the how-tos of scone making in general as well as flavor creation.

Open Class Winner

Indie Tea Tee-Tins…Mad Party, by Indie Tea

These lively tins depict the famous Alice in Wonderland tea party and they include a “tea shirt.” The Tee-Tins tees are a sustainable line of tea-inspired apparel.

Packaging Winner

Convenience Packaging for Puer Teas, by Wild Tea Qi

The award-winning Puer Teas are now available in 100-percent recyclable, convenient packaging for single-serving ease – for tea on the go.

SOURCE 2012 World Tea Expo


Davids Tea has new CFO

DaVita Inc. said Monday that its chief financial officer is leaving the company to take the same job at Davids Tea Inc.

The Denver-based kidney dialysis provider said that after two years as its CFO, Luis Borgen is returning to Boston to be closer to his family.

It said Davids Tea is a venture-capital backed company, but gave no further details.

Borgen was quoted in a DaVita news release as saying his two years at the company have been rewarding and his new job will take him back into retailing.

Jim Hilger, DaVita’s chief accounting officer, will serve as interim chief financial officer, effective immediately, the company said.

Hilger joined DaVita in 2005 and became chief accounting officer in 2010. He also served as acting chief financial officer in 2007 and 2008, DaVita said.


Caffeine use may offer relief for dry eye sufferers

SAN FRANCISCO – April 17, 2012 – Researchers at the University of Tokyo’s School of Medicine have shown for the first time that caffeine intake can significantly increase the eye’s ability to produce tears, a finding that could improve treatment of dry eye syndrome. This common eye condition affects about four million people age 50 and older in the United States. For many, dry eye syndrome is simply uncomfortable and annoying, but for others it escalates into a vision-threatening disease. All of the 78 participants in the new study produced significantly more tears after consuming caffeine than after taking a placebo. The study is available in Ophthalmology, the journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Dry eye syndrome involves malfunction of the rate of tear production, the quality of tears, and/or the rate of evaporate from the surface of the eye. Anyone can experience dry eye, though it is more common among women. Symptoms can include gritty, scratchy or burning sensations, excessive tearing, and/or production of stringy mucus.

The research team, by Reiko Arita, MD, PhD, was motivated by an earlier study that had shown a reduced risk for dry eye in caffeine users: 13 percent of users had the syndrome compared with nearly 17 percent of non-users. The team knew that caffeine was likely to stimulate tear glands, since it is known to increase other secretions, such as saliva and digestive juices. They also knew that people respond differently to caffeine, so they analyzed study participants’ DNA samples for two genetic variations that play important roles in caffeine metabolism. Tear production proved to be higher in study subjects who had the two genetic variations.

“If confirmed by other studies, our findings on caffeine should be useful in treating dry eye syndrome,” said Dr. Arita. “At this point, though, we would advise using it selectively for patients who are most sensitive to caffeine’s stimulating effects.”

The study subjects were divided into two groups: one received caffeine tablets in the first session and a placebo in the second session, while the order was reversed for the other group. Tear volume was measured within 45 minutes of consuming the tablets. All sessions took place between 10 a.m. and noon, a time of day when tear production is usually stable. No subjects knew whether they received caffeine or the placebo. All abstained from caffeine use for six days prior to each session and used no drugs during the sessions. To be eligible for the study subjects had to be free of high blood pressure, dry eye syndrome, allergies that affect the eye, glaucoma, and other eye diseases and conditions that can interfere with tear production. The study also found that tear drainage rates were not affected by caffeine.

Dry eye can be very uncomfortable and interfere with vision. It’s important to see an ophthalmologist if symptoms continue, since advanced cases can cause eye damage and permanent vision problems. Current treatment options range from simple warm compresses, eye washes and artificial tears to medications and tear drainage devices.


Korean Tea Exhibition at Penn State Tea Institute

The Penn State Tea House is a fully functional student run Chinese Tea House, Open Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 12:15 - 2:30pm.

The Penn State Tea House is a fully functional student run Chinese Tea House, Open Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 12:15 - 2:30pm.


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