Caffeine and Heart Disease: Is There a Right Amount of Daily Coffee?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Professor Elina Hypponen
Professor in Nutritional and Genetic Epidemiology
Director: Australian Centre for Precision Health
 Australian Centre for Precision Health|
University of South Australia Cancer Research Institute |
South Australian Health & Medical Research Institute 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: In Randomised controlled trials caffeine, which is a key constituent of coffee, has been shown to increase blood pressure. There is also some past evidence to suggest that higher coffee consumption may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, but only in individuals who are slow caffeine metabolisers.

We used information from about 350,000 individuals from the UK, to look at the association between patterns of  habitual of coffee consumption and the subsequent risk of cardiovascular disease. As we also know that people are genetically different with respect to their ability to metabolise caffeine, a further aim for our study was to look at whether those people who are able to metabolise caffeine effectively, may also be more resistant to possible cardiovascular effects of coffee, compared to those who metabolise caffeine more slowly. 

 MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response: What we saw was a so-called U-shaped association, where the lowest risk of cardiovascular disease was seen for those participants who drank 1 to 2 cups of coffee per day, while slightly increased risks were seen both for participants who did not drink any coffee as well as for those who could be classified as heavy coffee drinkers, that is those who drank more than 6 cups of coffee each day.

With respect to our hypothesis that some of us might be genetically protected from the effects of coffee on cardiovascular health, we did not see any support, and this U-shaped association was more or less identical for fast and slow caffeine metabolisers. 

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: People tend to naturally limit their coffee intakes in response to unpleasant sensations, and I believe this is a very reasonable thing to do. We are all different and if the body is sending us signals indicating that the personal limit has been reached, it is important to follow those signals.

This said, it was reassuring to see that the level of intake associated with an increased cardiovascular risk was very high, and in this population about 2% women and 3% of men drank over 6 cups of coffee each day.  However, as is typical for dietary intakes or indeed any lifestyle habits in general, the best practice appears to be that of sticking to moderation. 

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work? 

Response: Cardiovascular disease is clearly just one aspect of health which may be affected by coffee consumption, and our team is working to clarify the health effects of coffee also more broadly. More work is also needed to establish individual differences in the responses to coffee consumption.

No disclosures 

Citation:

Ang Zhou, Elina Hyppönen, Long-term coffee consumption, caffeine metabolism genetics, and risk of cardiovascular disease: a prospective analysis of up to 347,077 individuals and 8368 cases, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 109, Issue 3, March 2019, Pages 509–516, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/nqy297

  

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