In a piece of news that I find frankly surprising, a study has found that women who drink coffee are 25 percent less likely to die from heart disease. The study also revealed that drinking little to no coffee had an increased incidence of stroke in women. But this isn’t just one cup of coffee a day, either – the women whose hearts seemed to benefit from drinking coffee were those who drank between two and six cups a day.
The funny thing is, too, that while men seem to be able to drink similar amounts up coffee (up to six cups) with no added risk, they did not experience the same benefits.
It’s unclear whether this is tied to caffeine intake, since the study did not say whether the women were drinking regular or decaf coffee, although the researchers who investigated coffee and risk of stroke, who are Swedish, said that very few people in Sweden drink decaffeinated coffee.
“Coffee drinkers should rejoice,” said Dr. Sharonne N. Hayes, a cardiologist at Mayo Clinic, responding to the study. “Coffee is often made out to be potentially bad for your heart. There really hasn’t been any study that convincingly said coffee is bad.”
However, others caution that these kinds of study do not prove cause, so don’t go rushing out to Starbucks to chug extra coffee just yet. Previous studies have had conflicting findings, and researchers stressed that people looking to avoid stroke should try proven practices (maintain a healthy weight, don’t smoke, watch your blood pressure). Speculating about why coffee could be related to stroke risk, however, the researchers said that coffee consumption might be reducing inflammation and improving insulin sensitivity. It also could have something to do with the antioxidants in coffee.
This does seem to be good news for people who drink coffee regularly, though – even if it isn’t directly related to stroke prevention, it doesn’t seem to cause strokes or heart disease. So the moral of this story seems to be: as long as you’re drinking coffee in moderation, you could have a reduced risk of stroke, especially if you’re a woman.
Photo from Wikimedia Commons.