Coffee fights heart disease

By on October 30, 2012

Avid coffee drinkers, raise your mugs. Preventative elements against heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even liver cancer are steaming in your Starbucks pumpkin spice latte. Contrary to common pejorative thought, studies have found coffee and its components to be beneficial, especially in guarding against heart failure.

Caffeine boosts energy and protects the heart.

A meta-analysis conducted by the Cardiovascular Epidemiology Research Unit at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center found habitual coffee consumption to produce a significant decrease in risk of heart failure. The study analyzed data complied beginning in January 1996 through December 2011. The study covered 6,522 incidents of heart failure and 140,220 participants. The data collected measured coffee’s results in different dosages, so a dose-analysis was conducted as well. Three levels of consumption were considered, including a reference level.

Researchers were able to conclude that moderate coffee consumption—about 4 cups—decreases risk of heart failure by 11%. The study showed an inverse association between coffee consumption and heart failure. This evidence was compared to no coffee consumption, although effects decreased as coffee consumption increased, leveling out after 10 cups. The majority of the data studied came from Europe where the average coffee serving is smaller but stronger than in America. The 4 cup a day average actually translates into 2 traditional American servings at Starbucks or a local coffee house.

There has been no evidence to support variance in results based on sex, race, or history of heart trouble, as suggested by previous studies. Original data came from studies that were inconsistent in findings and gauged the effects of coffee by different standards, making results incomparable.

The meta-analysis concluded that the benefits of moderate, habitual coffee consumption refutes the theory that caffeine is completely bad. Evidence for hypertension and higher blood pressure induced by caffeine disappears when consumption surpasses 3 cups daily. Researchers infer that a tolerance or immunity to caffeine’s negative effects is built up through habitual drinking of java, allowing beneficial effects to occur. However, even the negative effects are minimal. When compared to the average dosage in caffeine capsules, caffeinated coffee was less effective in producing negative effects like raised blood pressure.

Further examination of continued coffee intake showed that caffeine was not the only beneficial component of the drink. Coffee, in its varying varieties and roasts, boasts polyphenols and strong antioxidants that protect the body’s cells. High levels of potassium, also good for the heart, and soluble fiber have been found in coffee as well.

According to, more than 50 percent of Americans drink coffee each day—our campus Starbucks is small scale representation of that. So not only will the caffeinated brew keep students up to study for exams now, but it may also reduce the risk of heart failure later in life.

Ethan Gissendaner
Staff Writer

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  • Mike Budd

    Just a quick word to say that this study is “observational” and not “interventional”: you get a risk factor but no real evidence. With friends doctors we think that it can explain why coffee and caffeine have been presented as “bad for us” for years and recently as “wonder drugs”! It has probably to do with medical information in general. We have tried to explain it by using the example of decaffeinated coffee:
    I hope that the handmade pictures will help :)
    Cheers, Mike

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