Can coffee protect you from stroke?

February 23, 2009 by  

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Now you see them, now you don’t. I am referring the health benefits/adverse effects of coffee. Previous studies indicated that excessive  caffeine consumption may have some bad effects on our health. But this new study seems to bring good news to coffee lovers.

This joint study by American and Spanish researchers recently published in the journal Circulation however, says this is not the case. The study looked at the data of 83,076 women as part of the Nurses’ Health Study. The study participants were followed up for more than 24 years, their caffeine consumption recorded, as well as any cardiovascular events that occurred during the follow-up period. The results show that there is no evidence of increased stroke risk in women drinking 4 or more cups of coffee per day. On the contrary, the results actually suggest coffee consumption results in a modest but still observable decrease in risk for all types of stroke.

Compared with women who drank less than one cup of coffee a month, the stroke risk was found to be

Other caffeinated drinks such as tea and soft drinks did not show any association, positive or negative to stroke risk. However, decaf coffee also showed a trend towards lowering the risk. This suggests that whatever gives protection against stroke, it must not be caffeine but something else. The authors think coffee contains antioxidants that may reduce inflammatory processes and improve endothelial function. Previous data analyses indicate that coffee may have some beneficial affects that can be protective against coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Since coffee drinkers also tended to be cigarette smokers, the researchers also looked whether the protective effect of coffee can counteract the adverse effects of smoking. Well, smokers have to be disappointed. Coffee doesn’t help at all in lowering smokers’ stroke risk. But neither does it increase it. Thus, “the potential benefit of coffee consumption cannot counterbalance the detrimental effects smoking has on health“, according to the authors.

Thus, the researchers emphasize that this reduced stroke risk due to coffee is only true for healthy, non-smoking women.

And before you load up on coffee upon heating this good news, take note what the authors conclude:

“Anyone with health problems that can be worsened by coffee (insomnia, anxiety, hypertension or heart problems) should talk to their doctor about their specific risk.”

Photo credit: stock.xchng

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