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Heart worries? Skip that fourth coffee.

Heart worries? Skip that fourth coffee

High coffee consumption in countries where coronary artery disease is rampant -- such as the United States -- led several researchers in the early 1960s to suspect a connection between the two. However, subsequent investigations of that link have proven equivocal (SN: 4/16/88, p.252). Now a major study points a more certain finger at coffee -- but only heavy consumption -- as an independent risk factor in heart attacks.

Kaiser Permanente (KP) periodically administers comprehensive health exams, which include a detailed questionnaire, to subscribers of its prepaid medical program. Arthur L. Klatsky and his colleagues at KP's Oakland, Calif., medical center followed 101,774 individuals from the time they received a "multiphasic" exam (between 1978 and 1986) until December 1986, their hospitalization for heart disease or their decision to leave the program -- whichever came first. Among 1,914 people hospitalized for heart disease, the 740 who had heart attacks "were more likely to have been daily coffee drinkers," they report in the September AMERICAN JOURNAL OF EPIDEMIOLOGY.

However, they note, heart attack risk increased only in persons who habitually drank four or more cups daily of regular or decaffeinated coffee. Among heavy coffee drinkers, women showed a 63 percent increase in heart attack risk -- twice that seen in men; blacks experienced roughly twice the increase (73 percent) of whites; and smokers incurred a risk roughly one-third higher (66 percent) than nonsmokers. Because the researchers found no similar link between high tea consumption and heart disease, they believe some factor other than caffeine lies behind coffee's risk.

Klatsky's team recommends that persons at high risk of heart attacks limit their coffee consumption, but they see no harm in "the solace of a cup or two" each day.
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Title Annotation:heart attack risk among heavy coffee drinkers
Publication:Science News
Date:Oct 6, 1990
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