(HealthDay News) — Drinking three to five cups of coffee a day may reduce the risk of developing coronary atherosclerosis, which in turn might reduce the risk for heart attack or stroke, a new study suggests. The report was published online March 2 in Heart.
Eliseo Guallar, M.D., a professor from the department of epidemiology and medicine at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, and colleagues collected data on 25,138 men and women living in South Korea. Their average age was 41. None had clinically evident cardiovascular disease. During a yearly health exam, the participants were asked about what they ate and drank. They all had computed tomography scans to determine the prevalence of coronary artery calcium. The researchers then compared calcium build-up with how much coffee participants drank.
The investigators found that as coffee consumption rose, the amount of calcium build-up declined, with those who drank three to five cups a day having the least amount of calcium build-up. The association between higher coffee consumption and lower calcium build-up was the same when the study categorized people by age, sex, smoking, alcohol consumption, obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and hypercholesterolemia. They also took into account factors such as education; level of physical activity; family history of cardiovascular disease; and dietary consumption of fruits, vegetables, red meat, and processed meats. The study did not differentiate between regular and decaf coffee, though the authors noted that decaf is not popular among Korean coffee drinkers.
Guallar told HealthDay that this study cannot show a direct cause-and-effect relationship between coffee and reduced calcium in the arteries, but noted that the association between these factors is very strong. Although the reasons for this association are not known, Guallar said, researchers speculated that coffee may reduce the risk for type 2 diabetes.