• By The Financial District

Canadian Savants Show How Caffeine Cuts Bad Cholesterol

Your morning vice might not be that guilty a pleasure after all: coffee seems to have a range of health benefits, but exactly how it affects the body to produce these results remains unknown.

Photo Insert: Other research has linked coffee to reductions in prostate cancer, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and heart disease.

A new study has identified specific proteins that caffeine works on which help the liver remove bad cholesterol from the bloodstream and protect against cardiovascular disease, Michael Irving reported recently for New Atlas.

Several large-scale, long-term studies have revealed that coffee is good for you in various ways. One study tracked the coffee habits of more than half a million people across Europe for 16 years and found that those who consumed the most had significantly lower mortality rates than those who abstained.

Other research has linked coffee to reductions in prostate cancer, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and heart disease. The study was published recently by Nature Communications.

Observations are one thing, but scientists hadn’t identified many mechanisms for how compounds in coffee, particularly caffeine, might bestow these benefits. So for the new study, researchers at McMaster University investigated what might be behind caffeine’s apparent knack for preventing cardiovascular disease.

All the news: Business man in suit and tie smiling and reading a newspaper near the financial district.

The team found that regular caffeine consumption was linked to lower levels of a protein called PCSK9 in the bloodstream. Lower levels of this protein boost the liver’s ability to break down LDL cholesterol, the “bad” type that can block arteries and lead to cardiovascular disease.

Not only did caffeine and derivatives of it work directly on PCSK9, but the researchers found that it also blocked the activation of another protein called SREBP2. This in turn also reduces levels of PCSK9 in the blood.

Health & lifestyle: Woman running and exercising over a bridge near the financial district.

“These findings now provide the underlying mechanism by which caffeine and its derivatives can mitigate the levels of blood PCSK9 and thereby reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease,” said Richard Austin, senior author of the study. “Given that SREBP2 is implicated in a host of cardiometabolic diseases, such as diabetes and fatty liver disease, mitigating its function has far-reaching implications.”

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