Coffee may prevent heart disease

New research suggests that heavy coffee drinkers are less likely to die of heart disease, such as heart attacks, strokes, and arrhythmia. Edidemiologists from the Autonomous University of Madrid analyzed data from more than 120,000 men and women. According to their study, women who drank four or five cups of brew a day were 34 percent less likely to die form heart disease. Men who drank more than five cups a day were 44 percent less likely to succumb to heart disease. Still, there are too many variables and unknowns in the research for anyone to sensibly boost their coffee intake as a prophylactic. From New Scientist:

(Researcher Esther Lopez-Garcia) speculates that anti-inflammatory compounds found in coffee may be responsible for its apparent health benefits.

This is in spite of high levels of caffeine, which might increase the chances of suffering a heart attack by raising blood pressure. "Our hypothesis is that caffeine has a short term effect, but in the longer term, [other aspects of coffee are] more important," she says.

Other studies have, however, shown just the opposite. In 2007, (University of Florence epidemiologist Francesco) Sofi analysed more than 20 studies of health and coffee drinking and found little consensus.

One explanation for these conflicting results could be genetic. In 2006, a team of Canadian researchers discovered that people with a mutation in a gene involved in metabolising caffeine had higher rates of heart attack than people without the mutation.