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Study: Moderate Coffee Drinking Lowers Risk of Death, Cardiovascular Disease

February 24, 2022

Light-to-moderate coffee consumption, up to three cups a day, has been linked to lower risk of death from cardiovascular causes by a new United Kingdom population study of 468,629 people published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology. The study, which includes questionnaire results and MRI scans spanning a decade from the UK Biobank database, found a 12 percent overall risk of death, a 17 percent lower risk of death by cardiovascular disease and a 21 percent lower risk of stroke. It also affirmed previous studies that found long-term coffee use did not increase risk of high blood pressure. Even heavy coffee drinkers, the researchers found, showed no evidence of adverse cardiovascular consequences. Yet the benefits, researchers said, did not extend to drinkers of instant coffee, which has more caffeine and more antioxidants, but also more acrylamide -- a chemical that can damage the nervous system and might increase cancer risk. Participants were divided into groups of non-coffee drinkers (22.1 percent), light-to-moderate coffee drinkers (58.4 percent) and those who drank more than three cups of coffee a day (19.5 percent). Each was also questioned on high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes and other cardiovascular risk factors. The MRI scans, from select participants, helped researchers analyze habitual coffee consumption on the heart's structure and function. The study, a collaboration between Semmelweis University in Budapest and Queen Mary University in London, revealed that coffee possibly slows age-related heart changes. That effect was measured in a lower Arterial Stiffness Index, or ASI, an indicator of arterial health and ischemic cardiovascular risk. The researchers said, after reviewing results of 139,727 baseline ASI measurements, that drinking half a cup to three cups of coffee was associated with a significantly lower ASI. Family heart history also plays a role, though not definitely, in diabetes, high blood pressure and other risk factors highlighted in the questionnaire. “Genetic predisposition is not an inevitable conclusion," says Dr. Brett Nowlan, a cardiologist with the Hartford HealthCare Heart & Vascular Institute. "I tell my patients that genetics determines a 'bracket' of health one is subject to, but this bracket is actually quite broad. "By pursuing healthy lifestyle habits and appropriately treating risk factors, one can enjoy health at the far good end of the 'bracket.' Conversely, by ignoring controllable risk factors, one's health will be at the far bad end of this bracket.”