Q: You’ve written about the health benefits of coffee, but I think you’ve missed an important downside. My mother, mother-in-law and sister were all coffee drinkers. All three lived past 80, and all three lost at least 4 inches in height.

My mother was 5 feet 5 inches in her youth and was about 5 feet 1 inch before her death. My mother-in-law was 5 feet 2 inches in her youth and 4 feet 10 inches before she died. My sister was 5 feet 9 inches as a young woman and is currently 5 feet 4 inches at age 81.

I do not drink coffee. While I drank black tea in the first three decades of my life, I switched to herbal tea in the past four decades.

I am currently 70 years old and have lost almost 2 inches in height. I remain convinced that coffee increases bone loss worse than tea.

A: You may well be right. Green tea drinkers are less likely to develop osteoporosis (Nutrients, Dec. 26, 2021). Coffee drinkers, on the other hand, may be at greater risk of osteoporosis and fractures (Osteoporosis International, April 15, 2022, and June 2022).

These associations are intriguing but inconclusive. People who drink coffee have less Type 2 diabetes and a lower risk of stroke, heart failure, cancer and dementia. A recent analysis of UK Biobank data shows that coffee drinkers live longer (Annals of Internal Medicine, May 31, 2022).


Q: I’d had prediabetes for more than 10 years when I was diagnosed with diabetes in September. After discussing it with my doctor, I went on a very low carbohydrate diet and soon started to eat some nopal (leaves of prickly pear cactus) along with the fruit I have on my breakfast oatmeal. That always includes a sprinkling of cinnamon.

My most recent test was after fasting overnight. The HbA1c was 6.68%. Blood glucose was 84, and insulin was 5.56.

Recently, I skipped my morning dose of nopal for a week, and my symptoms of diabetes returned. I am once again eating nopal and have decided to take it with both of my meals.

A: Your level of glycated hemoglobin shows you have borderline diabetes, because it is above the cutoff of 6.5%. However, your fasting blood sugar and insulin levels are in the normal range.

Although prickly pear (Opuntia) cactus are native to the Americas, Australian researchers are interested in their potential for blood sugar control (Medicina, May 15, 2019; Feb. 16, 2022).

There are a number of other nondrug strategies in addition to the low-carb diet you are following. Regular exercise is important. Maintaining adequate vitamin D levels is also helpful. The cinnamon you sprinkle on your oatmeal can be beneficial as long as it is Ceylon cinnamon.


You can learn more about these and other natural options for blood sugar control in our eGuide to Preventing and Treating Diabetes. This online resource may be found under the Health eGuides tab at PeoplesPharmacy.com.

Q: Hot water worked to get rid of my plantar warts after three years of trying every other medical approach and old wives’ tale known to man. Even my dermatologist was close to giving up on me.

Soaking my feet in hot water for an hour every night is what turned the trick for me. I found this recommendation on the University of Washington website.

A: We have been writing about hot water soaks for treating warts for almost three decades. Dr. Samuel Moschella of Harvard Medical School suggested this treatment for his patients who did not want surgical removal. He recommended soaking the affected foot in hot water (100 to 113 degrees) for 30 to 90 minutes every week.