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... but on the other hand.

. . . but on the other hand

Harvard researchers say they find no support for the idea that coffee increases heart risks. This appears to contradict conclusions of another large-scale study, reported last month, which suggested that downing four or more cups of java daily increases heart attack risk (SN: 10/6/90, p. 220).

The newer study surveyed 45,589 male dentists, optometrists, osteopathic phsicians, pharmacists, podiatrists and veterinarians, none of whom had a personal history of cardiovascular disease. After polling the volunteers on their consumption of regular coffee, decaf and tea, the researchers monitored their heart disease status for two years.

In the Oct. 11 NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE, Walter Willett and his colleagues report that 40 volunteer died of heart attacks or sudden death, another 181 suffered nonfatal heart attacks, 136 underwent coronary artery surgery and 54 had stokes. After adjusting for variables such as age, smoking, diabetes, alcohol use, fat consumption and family history of heart attack, the researchers saw no link between heart disease and consumption of tea or regular coffee.

They did find "a positive trend," however, between decaffeinated coffee and coronay artery disease. Decaf drinkers also showed "a slight and marginally significant increase" in overall risk of heart disease, they report.

"This is a good study," comments Arthur L. Klatsky of the Kaiser-Permanente Medical Cente in Oakland, Calif., who directed the earlier investigation. He adds taht the new data do not necessarily contradict his findings. For example, although the Harvard researchers all but "brushed off" their decaf findings, that link may be real, he asserts. Noting that his study could not segregate coffee risks by caffeine content, he speculates that the heart-disease/coffee link seen in the Kaiser Permanente data may trace to decaf. Klatsky cites several other differences between the two studies: The Harvard study included only men (Klatsky's team found that men may be less sensitive than women to coffee-mediated cardiovascular effects); involved fewer smokers; used a healthier population; and limited follow-up to two years (Klatsky's study followed some of its 101,770 participants for 12 years).

But Klatsky says neither study offers grounds for fearing coffee -- decaf or otherwise. Even his data indicate that "if coffee causes a higher risk of heart attack, is isn't a much-increased risk," he says.
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Title Annotation:study finds no evidence that coffee increases heart risks
Publication:Science News
Date:Oct 20, 1990
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