The delicious coffee is hard to resist. No wonder: It rocks conversations, warms up on cold days and brings energy in times of frustration. This makes the drink the second most consumed beverage in the world after only water. Data from the Brazilian Coffee Industry Association shows that domestic consumption of powdered coffee is growing at 3% annually and 9% for capsules. But, like everything else in life, consumption also requires moderation. An international study has shown that eating it in small amounts is good for your health, but if its use increases, it can increase the risk of developing glaucoma by more than three times for those who have a genetic predisposition to high eye pressure.
A survey conducted by the Brazilian Glaucoma Society (SBG) showed that the disease affects 2 million people over 40 in the country. According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), 76 million cases were diagnosed in 2020. The forecast for 2040 is 111.8 million. The increase is related to aging.
Glaucoma is the name given to a group of degenerative and progressive optic neuropathies. It is an eye disease caused by damage to the optic nerve. “The disease is characterized by deterioration of the ganglion cells and layers of nerve fibers in the retina. The result of this damage is irreversible vision loss,” explains ophthalmologist Maria Beatriz Gerius.
The main way to prevent glaucoma is to measure intraocular pressure, especially after the age of 40 years. This is because the excess can start the process of optic nerve degeneration. “However, today there is evidence that glaucoma develops from vascular, genetic, anatomical and immune factors. There is a lot of scientific evidence about increased risk in populations of African descent, for example,” says the doctor.
The first study of its kind
The research, led by the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, USA, is the first to show an interaction between genes and diet in glaucoma. The findings, published in Ophthalmology, a peer-reviewed medical journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, may suggest that people with a family history of glaucoma should reduce their caffeine intake. The work analyzes the effect of caffeine intake on glaucoma and intraocular pressure, which is the pressure inside the eye that, when elevated, is a risk factor for glaucoma.
“We have published work indicating that high caffeine intake increases the risk of developing glaucoma in people with a family history of the disease,” wrote Luis R. Pascual, lead author of the study. “In this study, we showed that the inverse relationship between high caffeine intake and glaucoma is clear, but only among those with the highest genetic risk score for intraocular hypertension.”
Researchers in the UK used Biobank, a large-scale population biomedical database that analyzed the records of more than 120,000 people between the ages of 39 and 73, who provided their health records as well as DNA and DNA samples. They responded to several nutritional questionnaires focused on caffeinated beverages. Consume daily, amount of caffeinated foods, certain types, and portion sizes. The questions also included questions about her vision, including details about her glaucoma diagnosis or family history of the disease.
The study showed that high caffeine intake was not associated with an increased risk of developing intraocular pressure or glaucoma. However, for participants with a genetic predisposition to elevated intraocular pressure, higher caffeine consumption was associated with higher intraocular pressure values and a higher prevalence of glaucoma.
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