Coffee ‘lowers risk of dying from heart disease’

17th November 2015 – Drinking a moderate amount of coffee each day may reduce your risk of dying from heart disease, type 2 diabetes and other conditions, according to a study.

Previous studies have shown inconsistent links between coffee consumption and the risk of dying either in general terms or from a number of diseases. This latest study, published in the American Heart Association journal

Circulation adds to the literature that suggests coffee may have important health benefits. Up to 5 cups a day

A research team led by Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston in the US found that people who regularly drank moderate amounts of coffee daily – less than 5 cups a day – experienced a lower risk of deaths from cardiovascular disease, neurological diseases, type 2 diabetes and were less likely to commit suicide.

The benefits held true for drinking caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee, suggesting it is not just the caffeine providing health perks but possibly the naturally occurring chemical compounds in the coffee beans. In a statement, lead author Dr Ming Ding says: “They might be responsible for the inverse association between coffee and mortality. However, more studies are needed to investigate the biological mechanisms producing these effects.”

The findings are based on data from 3 large ongoing US studies involving a total of 208,501 people.

Researchers assessed coffee drinking every 4 years by looking at completed food questionnaires, with participants followed for up to 30 years. During the follow-up period, 19,524 women and 12,432 men died from a range of causes. Non-smokers

In general, they found that people who frequently drank coffee were more likely to smoke and drink alcohol. So, to separate the effects of coffee from smoking, researchers repeated their analysis among participants who had never smoked. When they did this they found that the protective benefits of coffee on deaths became even more evident.

“Regular consumption of coffee can be included as part of a healthy, balanced diet,” says senior author Dr Frank Hu. “However, certain populations such as pregnant women and children should be cautious about high caffeine intake from coffee or other beverages.”

The researchers say, because the study was not designed to show a direct cause and effect relationship between coffee consumption and dying from illness, the findings should be treated with caution. One potential drawback of the study design was that participants were asked to report how much coffee they drank. However, researchers found the assessment was reliable. A healthy lifestyle ‘is key’

Commenting on the study in an emailed statement, Emily Reeve, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation says: “It is important to remember that maintaining a healthy lifestyle is what really matters if you want to keep your heart healthy, not how much coffee you drink.

“Previous research suggests that drinking up to 5 cups of coffee a day is not harmful your cardiovascular health, and this study supports that. But more research is needed to fully understand how coffee affects our body and what it is in coffee that may affect a person’s risk of heart attack or stroke.”

Pav Kalsi, senior clinical advisor at Diabetes UK says in a statement: “When it comes to reducing risk of type 2 diabetes, evidence clearly shows that the most important thing people can do is to maintain a healthy weight through eating a healthy balanced diet, along with taking regular physical activity.

“For people who are already living with type 2 diabetes this approach is also key to managing their condition well.”

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