Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Frequent Coffee Breaks Keep You Healthy Too!

Coffee Breaks Make You Healthier

Coffee drinking is quite popular all across the world. There are many, who have coffee first thing in morning, referred to as bed coffee. Bed coffee is supposed to energize people and get them out of sleepiness. Many others take “coffee breaks” while at work, which relaxes them. Who would have forgotten the student days, when numerous coffee cups kept them awake until late nights just before examinations? Coffee drinking is supposed to increase alertness and concentration. The effects are mainly related to caffeine contained in the coffee.

Health-Related Benefits of Drinking Coffee

1. Lower risk of diabetes: In a Dutch study done on 40,000 people, it was found that drinking at least 3 cups of coffee or tea per day reduced the risk of developing diabetes by 42%. (Diabetologia 2009). The anti-diabetic effects are related to polyphenols found in coffee.
2. Lower risk of coronary heart disease: Moderate habitual coffee consumption (3-4 cups per day) lowers the risk of coronary heart disease, especially in women. (International Journal of Cardiology)
3. Coffee improves headaches and migraine, if taken alone or along with other painkillers.
4. Lower risk of brain stroke: Middle aged people in Japan, who drank 3 or more cups of coffee per day had lower rates of silent brain infarctions (strokes without symptoms, picked up on MRI scan of brain). Lesser brain infarctions would also lead to lesser incidence of dementia. (Journal of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Diseases, 2016)
3 or more cups of coffee intake per day reduced the risk of brain stroke (despite smoking tendency in coffee drinkers). A lower incidence of heart failure, diabetes and hypertension was also observed. (Nutritional Neuroscience, 2015)
5. Reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease: Alzheimer’s disease is the commonest cause of dementia (memory loss and loss of other higher mental functions) in the world. Based on the meta-analysis of 11 research studies, it was found that higher coffee consumption reduced the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. (Nutrition, 2015)
6. Reduced risk of Parkinson’s disease: Parkinson’s disease is the commonest cause of movement disorder, characterized by tremors, rigidity and slowness of movements. Based on meta-analysis of 26 studies, increased caffeine/coffee consumption was associated with reduced risk of Parkinson’s disease. (Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 2010)
7. Reduced risk of multiple sclerosis: Researchers in USA and Sweden have found that drinking at least 900 ml (six cups) of coffee per day has protective effects against multiple sclerosis. Caffeine has neuroprotective properties and suppresses inflammation. (JNNP, 2016)
8. Reduced risk of depression and suicide: A meta-analysis of 11 studies showed a protective effect of coffee against depression. The relationship between coffee intake and depression was linear; for each cup/day increase in coffee intake, the risk of depression reduced by 8%. (Australia NZ Journal of Psychiatry 2016)
In addition, increased coffee consumption was also associated with reduction in incidence of completed suicides. (World Journal of Biol Psychiatry, 2014)
9. Reduced risk of cancer: Various studies have shown that regular coffee consumption is associated with lower risk of cancers. 5 or more cups per day reduced the risk of colorectal cancer (Oncotarget, 2016). Other studies have shown reduced risk of cancers of oral cavity, pancreas, urinary bladder, breast, uterus, and liver among regular coffee drinkers.
10. Lesser incidence of erectile dysfunction: Coffee can provide a boost to sexual health too. Men with coffee intakes of 2-3 cups of coffee/ day reported significantly lesser incidence of erectile dysfunction, as compared to those with no coffee intake or only 1 cup/day. (PLos One, 2015)
11. Lower death rates: Regular intake of coffee can increase longevity and prevent deaths too. Recent research has shown that people drinking 2-5 cups of coffee/day had significantly lower deaths from heart disease, chronic lung diseases, diabetes, pneumonia and influenza, and intentional self-harm. Coffee may reduce mortality risk by favorably affecting inflammation, lung function, insulin sensitivity, and depression. (American Journal of Epidemiology,

Possible Health Hazards of Coffee Drinking
1. Poor control of BP in patients with hypertension:  A recent study showed that older people with hypertension, who consumed 3 or more cups of coffee per day, had higher BP (systolic and diastolic). Coffee drinking, however, does not lead to an increased risk of developing hypertension (in people with normal BP).
2. Increased cholesterol levels: Drinking unfiltered or boiled coffee may cause an increase in the levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.
3. Increased risk of coronary heart disease: Drinking 3 or more cups of Italian-style coffee (espresso or mocha) is associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease. (PLoS One, 2015). This effect was independent of cholesterol levels, as the cholesterol levels did not increase in this study.
4. Sleep problems: Caffeine is a brain stimulant and after consuming it, people feel alert. People sensitive to the stimulant effects of caffeine may not get proper sleep, if they drink coffee close to bedtime. Since, the effect of coffee may last for 5-6 hours, people sensitive to it should avoid coffee after 6 PM.
5. Not recommended for children: Coffee suppresses appetite, and may cause children to eat less. Also, after having coffee, children feel full, and avoid nutritious foods such as milk.
6. Pregnant and nursing women should have coffee in moderation: There is no restriction of coffee in pregnant or nursing mothers. However, they should restrict the coffee intake to 2-3 cups per day.

So, what is the final take home message?
1. Coffee is good for health, and can be safely consumed by adults.
2. For optimum benefits, it should be restricted to 2-5 cups per day.
3. The maximum safe limits for caffeine/coffee intake is 200 mg in one sitting (around 2½ cups of coffee) or 400 mg daily (around 5 cups of coffee). 
4. Coffee (without sugar and milk) has zero calories; and hence, people on strict diet too can freely have coffee.

DR SUDHIR KUMAR MD (Internal Medicine) DM (Neurology)
Senior Consultant Neurologist
Apollo Health City, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad
Phone: 040-23607777/60601066
Online Consultation: http://bit.ly/Dr-Sudhir-kumar

Wednesday, April 13, 2016



Almost all doctors see patients in OPD and it is the most important aspect of patient care for a physician. For a surgeon, OPD consultation is important to counsel patients regarding surgery after discussing the pros and cons of the procedure.

What factors determine the success of OPD consultation?
There are several aspects of OPD consultation that determine whether it was successful or not. These include: 1. Whether doctor carefully listened to patient’s problems or not? 2. Whether the doctor was pleasant or not? 3. Whether adequate time was allotted for the consultation or not? 4. Whether adequate information was given regarding diagnosis, investigations, medications, treatment, prognosis, etc or not? Of all of these, the duration is consultation is probably one of the most important factors.
How long should an ideal OPD consultation last?
There is no uniform guideline regarding the optimum duration for an OPD consultation. Doctors complete an OPD consultation in as little as 3-4 minutes, and some doctors spend almost an hour per patient in the OPDs. Spending more time would increase patient’s satisfaction, however, that is not the only criteria ensuring patient’s satisfaction.
Longer duration of OPD consultation would limit the number of patients a doctor can see per day. This would lead to long waiting periods. Is it advisable, when there are so few doctors seeing so many patients?
Duration of OPD consultation can increase without necessarily increasing the efficiency of diagnosis and treatment. For example, patient may try to discuss in detail certain irrelevant history (symptoms or past treatment) or he may bring volumes of old documents, which may not be relevant. He may discuss certain facts that he “half-learned” from the Internet, which may not be relevant to the case. Some patients are very talkative and it is difficult to stop them.
What is the best strategy?
Most experienced doctors know the relevant factors in history taking and examination. Doctors should guide the discussion in OPD, and politely point out if the patients are drifting away. Most important points can be discussed in 8-10 minutes. In any case, patients on average remember only three points from an outpatient consultation. So, there is no real point in overloading patients with too much information in a single consultation. Also, not all patients require the same amount of time. For example, a regular patient coming for diabetes or hypertension medications may not take more than 3 minutes, if sugar and BP are normal. On the other hand, an elderly patient with multiple comorbidities on multiple medications may take 15 minutes. So, the duration can be tailored as per the needs of the patient. On an average, 8-10 minutes per consultation would suffice.

This article was first published in www.docplexus.in Can be accessed at the following link-

Image above is for representational purpose only

Dr SUDHIR KUMAR MD (Internal Medicine), DM (Neurology)
Senior Consultant Neurologist
Apollo Health City, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad
Phone: 040-23607777/60601066
Email: drsudhirkumar@yahoo.com

Wednesday, April 6, 2016



Today's job requires working long hours, often stretching into late nights. Several jobs also require doing night shift duties. With increased internet connectivity, there is a boon to communication. However, it has also blurred the boundaries of "work time" and "leisure time". It is common to see people bringing work to home. At home, instead of relaxing, they remain busy on "business calls" on their smartphones, or work on "projects" on their laptops. While all these long and unearthly hours of work have increased their productivity making these employees "valuable assets" to the company; it has also taken a big toll on their health.

A recent study, published in NEUROLOGY Journal (Nov 2015) has shown a significantly higher risk of brain stroke in people with high strain jobs. The risk was higher for ischemic stroke (where the blood supply to a part of brain gets blocked), resulting in paralysis, impaired speech, blindness, and so on. The risk of brain stroke due to high strain jobs was found to be higher in women as compared to men.

Several reasons may be involved in increasing the risk of brain stroke in high strain jobs:
1. Work strain may lead to unhealthy lifestyles such as increased smoking, reduced physical activity, unhealthy eating habits, untimely meals, reduced sleep, lack of health check ups, etc. All of them are risk factors for stroke.
2. Work stress is often associated with certain cardiovascular risk factors, such as metabolic syndrome, high body mass index (obesity), impaired glucose metabolism (diabetes), and dyslipidemia (high cholesterol), which are also known to be risk factors for stroke.
3. Work stress can also lead to neuro-endocrine disturbances, leading to increased inflammation and plaque destabilization, leading to ischemic brain stroke.

Therefore, one needs to maintain a good work-leisure balance. Maintaining good work out put and efficiency are important, however, it should not be at the cost of strain and stress.
1. Working hours should be restricted to 8-10 hours per day.
2. Work should not be brought home.
3. There should be adequate time left (after work) to spend with family; and exercise on a regular basis.
4. Smartphones and laptops should be in silent mode during sleep, so that sleep is not disturbed.
5. Avoid night shift duties as much as possible.
6. Avoid excess travel, as it leads to disturbed sleep rhythm, as well as increased strain.
7. Periodic breaks and vacations with family are advisable, to get relaxed and recharged.

DR SUDHIR KUMAR MD (Medicine) DM (Neurology)
Senior Consultant Neurologist
Apollo Hospitals, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad
Email: drsudhirkumar@yahoo.com
Phone: 040-23607777/60601066
Online Consultation: http://bit.ly/Dr-Sudhir-kumar

Saturday, April 2, 2016



A recent study done at Cornell University in US has shown a higher risk of cancer and heart attacks in people eating pure vegetarian food for generations. Scientists have found that long-term vegetarianism can lead to genetic mutations, which increase the risk of heart disease and cancer.

Traditionally, red meat is known to increase the risk of colorectal (intestine) cancer, however, a recent research found the reverse, a 40% higher cancer risk among vegetarians!
This study compared two sets of people- meat eating people from Kansas (USA) and vegetarian people from Pune (India).

Long term vegetarian people were found to have genetic mutation that resulted in rapid metabolism of plant fatty acids, leading to increased amounts of arachidonic acid (which increases inflammation) and reduced production of protective omega 3 fatty acid. A shift of diet from fish (rich in healthy omega 3 fats) to vegetable oils (rich in less healthy omega 6 fats) has compounded the problem.
This study has clearly shown the higher risks of heart disease and cancer in pure vegetarian people. The message to vegetarians is clear- either eat fish or use olive oil (low in omega 6) if you cannot eat fish.

Previous studies have shown other problems with vegetarian diet:

1. Low sperm count leading to reduced fertility,
2. Low fertility could also be related to intake of pesticides (used in fruits and vegetables),
3. Vegetarians are also more prone to deficiencies of iron and vitamin B12.
4. One study found lower bone mineral density in vegetarians.

Finally, there is some good news for vegetarians. All is not gloomy. Research has also shown lower risk of diabetes, stroke and obesity among vegetarians as compared to non-vegetarians.

Senior Consultant Neurologist
Apollo Health City, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad
Ph: 040-23607777/60601066

Email: drsudhirkumar@yahoo.com

The article details can be found in The Telegraph:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/03/29/long-term-vegetarian-diet-changes-human-dna-raising-risk-of-canc/