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NIH MedlinePlus the Magazine, Trusted Health Information from the National Institutes of Health


A man drinking coffee

Coffee May Reduce Risk of Prostate Cancer

Men who regularly drink coffee are less likely to develop prostate cancer. That’s according to a new, large-scale study that found:

  • Men who had six or more cups a day had a 60 percent lower risk of lethal prostate cancer, and an 18 percent lower risk of developing any form of prostate cancer, compared to those who didn’t drink coffee.
  • Even drinking one to three cups a day had a 30 percent lower risk of lethal prostate cancer.
  • The risk reduction was seen with both regular and decaffeinated coffee.

The research team focused on coffee because it contains compounds that may influence prostate cancer. The researchers caution it’s too soon to recommend that men start drinking more coffee to avoid prostate cancer—future studies will be needed to confirm these results. The research was supported by NIH’s National Cancer Institute.

This Is Not the Year to Miss Your Flu Shot

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the flu vaccine for the upcoming 2011-12 flu season. It protects against seasonal flu and H1N1, as did last year’s vaccine. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cautions that it is not OK to skip getting your annual flu shot this year.

“All people aged 6 months and older should be vaccinated,” says Dr. Carolyn Bridges, a CDC associate director for adult immunization.

Flu virus protection lessens over the course of a year, so “even people who got a flu vaccine last year should get one again to make sure they are optimally protected,” she says.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that, on average, 36,000 people in the United States die from the flu each year and more than 200,000 others end up in the hospital. To find out more, visit, the U.S. government’s comprehensive flu information Web site.

Secondhand Smoke Impacts the Brain

Secondhand smoke has a direct and measurable effect on the brain—similar to what’s happening in the brain of the person doing the smoking. The effect is enough to make a smoker crave a cigarette. That’s the conclusion of a study that used high-tech brain imaging to observe what happened to smokers and nonsmokers after they were exposed to secondhand smoke while in a car. “These results show that even limited secondhand smoke exposure delivers enough nicotine to the brain to alter its function,” says Nora D. Volkow, M.D., director of NIH’s National Institute on Drug Abuse, which helped fund the study.

Sickle Cell Treatment Safe for Very Young Children

A drug used to treat adults with sickle cell disease appears safe for very young patients—children 8-to-19 months. Researchers found the drug hydroxyurea reduced pain and improved key blood measurements in the children studied. “There are strong reasons for healthcare professionals to consider starting children who have sickle cell disease as early as possible on hydroxyurea,” says Susan B. Shurin, M.D., acting director of NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, which funded the study. Sickle cell disease is an inherited blood disorder. It is most prevalent in people of African, Hispanic, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern descent.

The Talk Older Americans Should Have With Their Provider

A recent study found more than 50 percent of Americans over the age of 50 have used complementary and alternative medicines, such as herbal products and dietary supplements. Unfortunately, only a third of all respondents and a little over half of complementary and alternative medicine users said they have ever discussed these approaches with their healthcare provider. It’s important for healthcare providers to know everything patients are taking because some natural products can interact with conventional treatments. The survey was a joint effort between NIH’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine and AARP. Read the report or learn more at:


Fall 2011 Issue: Volume 6 Number 3 Page 28