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The continuing coffee controversy.


It may be a tempest in a teapot (or chaos in a coffeepot), but the apparent association of heavy coffee drinking and the danger of dying from heart disease continues to command attention. A study recently reported in The British Medical Journal found that, among 39,000 Norwegian men and women who drank five or more cups of coffee daily, the risk of dying from heart disease was considerably above that for persons who drank less or none at all.

The Norwegian researchers studied the coffee-drinking habits, cholesterol levels and other health-related factors of 38,564 men and women from 1977 onward. They found that deaths from heart disease were 1.6 times as great in men who drank five to six cups a day, 1.9 times as great in those who drank seven to eight cups a day, and 2.2 times as great in those drinking nine or more cups a day, compared to nondrinkers. Other factors, such as hypertension and smoking, were taken into account when arriving at those figures. In women, however, the excess risk of cardiac death was found only in the two highest groups (seven to eight cups a day and nine or more).

With regard to our March report on the recent Dutch study of Scandinavians whose cholesterol levels were higher among those who drank boiled rather than drip-filtered coffee, the Norwegian team found that many of their subjects came from areas where drip-filtering is the method of choice. They concluded that coffee may affect the mortality from coronary heart disease in a manner unrelated to its effect in elevating cholesterol levels. They could not, however, postulate what else about coffee could be responsible for their findings.
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Title Annotation:risk of heart disease
Publication:Medical Update
Date:May 1, 1990
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