Q: For the last two months, I have been taking a green coffee bean extract recommended by Dr. Oz on his show. So far, I've lost 10 pounds without even trying. What's your opinion of it?
A: Generally, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. But this stuff may actually work. Excitement about the weight-loss magic of green coffee bean extract began this year, after a "randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, linear dose, crossover University of Scranton study." (Translation: Neither the active researchers nor the study participants knew what they were receiving, and all blindly rotated through a high dose, low dose, or no dose/placebo phase of the experiment.) The study was published in the January 2012 issue of the peer-reviewed journal Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity. This wasn't just a bunch of anecdotal claims, but the results of a 22-week study involving 16 participants who showed an average weight loss of 17 pounds — a 10.5 percent overall weight loss and a 16 percent overall body-fat reduction. Incredible as it seems, these study participants consumed an average of 2,400 calories per day and still lost weight.
The key to the effectiveness of green coffee bean extract is not believed to be the effect of caffeine; rather, it is attributed to the compound chlorogenic acid and its metabolite caffeic acid. Chlorogenic acid helps to keep the body from absorbing sugar from the digestive tract, and it also stimulates the burning of fat by the liver.
The researchers who conducted the study, as well as consumers who have tried the extract, say it promotes weight loss without any significant side effects. A larger study of 60 participants is planned. Study limitations include a small test group and a short study duration. Whether the extract's effect wanes over time is a huge unanswered question.
Precancerous breast lump requires vigilance
Question: I'm confused about the findings of a breast biopsy I had a couple of months ago. The biopsy report said I had LCIS (lobular carcinoma in situ). I was relieved that the breast surgeon I went to said it wasn't cancer, but the diagnosis of "carcinoma" makes me pretty nervous. Doesn't "carcinoma" mean cancer?
Answer: Yes, it does. But the use of the word carcinoma in this breast condition is a misnomer. It's really a precancerous condition, rather than a true cancer. "Lobular" means that abnormal cells were found in the lobules, which are the milk-producing glands at the end of breast ducts. As you know, it's something found incidental to a breast biopsy for something unrelated to it. There's no breast mass or lump directly associated with this precancerous breast condition.
Some doctors refer to LCIS as "lobular neoplasia" (an abnormal growth of cells) rather than "lobular carcinoma" (the presence of cancerous cells). LCIS does mean that you're at higher risk of breast cancer in the future, so you will need to be closely watched with diagnostic mammograms. The good news is that you're safe for now.
Going forward, you will need to discuss treatment options with your breast surgeon or gynecologist. These options include frequent exams and mammography; antiestrogen protection with a drug such as Tamoxifen or Evista; and consideration of preventive mastectomy — particularly if there is a strong family history of breast cancer.