Here’s good news for women who drink coffee. Lots of coffee. Apparently women who drink four or more cups of coffee per day have a lower risk of stroke than women who don’t drink coffee. Research published in Circulation: The Journal of the American Heart Association looked at data collected in the Nurses’ Health Study, one of the largest collections of scientific data ever collated.
Begun in 1980, the Nurses’ Health Study tracked over 83,000 women for 24 years. The women, all medical health professionals, started the study with no history of heart disease, stroke, diabetes or cancer.
After factoring out other habits such as smoking and exercise, the study found that women who drink coffee have a significantly lower risk of stroke, and that the risk decreased further the more coffee the women drank.
The study found that women who had never smoked (or women who had quit smoking) and who drank four or more cups of coffee a day had a 43% lower risk of stroke than women who drank no coffee or less than one coffee a month. Smoking, however, essentially negates the positive effects of coffee on risk of stroke – women who smoked and drank four or more cups of coffee a day had only a 3% reduction in stroke risk.
Even women who drank less coffee appeared to benefit. With 2-3 cups of coffee a day, they reduced their risk of stroke by 19%, and women who drank only 5-7 cups of coffee a week reduced their risk of stroke by 12%.
Benefits appear to be limited to the coffee, not just the caffeine. However, researchers warned that those figures only hold true for women who don’t smoke and are otherwise healthy. Women with high blood pressure or diabetes saw significantly less benefit from drinking coffee, and that benefit might be offset by the harmful effects that coffee may have on high blood pressure.
And what about coffee’s effect on our risk for heart disease?
A recent study in Greece found that patients who drank one to two cups per day of coffee had greater elasticity in their major blood vessels than those who drank more or none at all. And most of these participants drank traditional strong Greek coffee in small cups of between 25ml and 50ml each. Dr. Christina Chrysohoou presented the findings at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Stockholm. She said:
“The study revealed that moderate coffee consumption, between one and two cups per day, is associated with higher values of aortic distensibility when compared with other individuals taking less coffee.”
Find out what Mayo Clinic experts have to say about coffee’s effect on blood pressure.
What do you think? Do you love your coffee?