Light-to-moderate coffee consumption beneficial for health - study


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The consumption of up to three cups of coffee per day has a beneficial effect on cardiovascular health, and reduces overall mortality rate as well as the risk of stroke, according to a study by Budapest Semmelweis University and Queen Mary University of London.

Researchers analyzed data from 468,629 U.K. Biobank participants, who didn’t have any record of heart disease at the start of the research period. The participants were asked about their coffee-drinking habits and lifestyle in a questionnaire and data was also gathered on their individual cardiovascular risk factors.

The participants were then divided into three groups: those who don't consume coffee ( 22.1%), light-to-moderate coffee-drinkers (0.5-3 cups/day; 58.4%), and heacy coffee-drinkers (more than 3 cups/day; 19.5%).

In addition, the researchers also used MRI scans on 30,650 individuals to gain a better understanding of how coffee-drinking habits affect the anatomy and functioning of the heart over time. The study's follow-up period was 11 years.

Dr. Judit Simon, PhD student at the Semmelweis University, who led the study, said, "Light-to-moderate coffee consumption was associated with a 12% lower risk of overall mortality, and with a 17% lower risk of death caused by cardiovascular diseases compared to non-coffee drinkers. In addition, from half to three cups of coffee was associated with a 21 % lower risk of stroke."

Dr. Pál Maurovich-Horvat, study supervisor and director of the Medical Imaging Center at the Semmelweis University, added, “Using the MRI scans we were able to analyze the effect of regular coffee intake on the structure and function of the heart. We found that regular light-to-moderate coffee consumption is beneficial for the health of the heart, with suggestion that it can slow down age-related cardiac changes."

Professor Steffen Petersen of the William Harvey Research Institute at Queen Mary University of London, a key collaborator of the study, noted “The large sample size, linked health data, and detailed heart MRI scans available in the U.K. Biobank offered a strong base to address this research question. According to the results, light-to-moderate coffee consumption is not damaging from a cardiovascular point of view, and it could be beneficial."

He also noted that, according to his knowledge, this has been the biggest study ever which focused on the effects of coffee consumption on cardiovascular health.

The type of coffee matters

The results of the study also revealed that the type of coffee consumed also matters in terms of health benefits.

“Most of the participants drank either ground or instant coffee. The ground coffee in moderate amounts was associated with lower mortality risk – but this benefit was not found amongst the regular instant coffee drinkers. The reason behind this may relate to the different production process of the ground and instant forms as they contain different additives” – said co-author Dr. Zahra Raisi-Estabragh, NIHR clinical lecturer at Queen Mary University of London.

“The research also found that even decaffeinated coffee was associated with lower all-cause mortality risk which also suggests that it’s not only the caffeine which plays a role in the positive effects of coffee, but this will need further research,” explained Dr. Judit Simon.

Dr. Maurovich-Horvat also noted that evidence of negative cardiovascular effects was absent even among those participants who consumed more than 3 cups of coffee a day. Still, positive health efffects were also absent in this group.

“Coffee is one of the most consumed beverages in the world, however, its cardiovascular effects are not well-known, and some previous studies have shown contradictory results. This latest analysis of the U.K. Biobank data is a valuable contribution to existing research in this field providing a comprehensive evaluation of the relationship between coffee consumption and several aspects of cardiovascular health," added Professor Petersen.

The results of the study have recently been published in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology.


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