Could elimination of coffee consumption decrease certain risk factors for ischemic heart disease?




Am J Clin Nutr

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The use of coffee and it’s benefits and risks are often the subject for serious debate in the scientific and medical communities. Often caffeine intake is associated with risk factors for heart disease and hypertension, but there have been significant studies on large populations that have determined that this is not the case and that it is the lifestyle of coffee drinkers that affect their health in a negative way.1
To further explore the risks of coffee intake and to attempt to verify the results of a previous study that identified some of those risks, scientists in Norway established a clinical study that supported the risk factor scenario.
This prospective, controlled, unblinded, Norwegian intervention study was designed to determine the effects of coffee use on the concentrations of total homocysteine and total cholesterol on 191 healthy, nonsmoking, coffee-drinking volunteers aged 24–69 years. In previous studies, many of the participants were smokers and had other unhealthy lifestyle habits which might have affected the outcome. In this study, each participant was randomly assigned to one of three groups for 6 consecutive weeks. The three groups differed in coffee consumption by consuming no coffee, 1–3 cups, or 4 or more cups per day. They were asked to prepare the coffee as they normally would at home. Blood samples were drawn 3 times; as a baseline, again at 3 weeks, and finally at 6 weeks. The group abstaining from coffee for 6 weeks was associated with a decrease in the total homocysteine concentration of 1.08 µmol/L and a decrease in the total cholesterol concentration of 0.28 mmol/L. The participants in this study responsible for these results on average drank 4 cups of filtered coffee daily for the year preceding the study. The authors of this study concluded, "abstention from filtered coffee in doses that are commonly consumed was associated with lower concentrations of (total homocysteine) and total cholesterol."2


1. Kleemola P, et al. Coffee consumption and the risk of coronary heart disease and death. Arch Intern Med. 2000 Dec 11-25;160(22):3393-400.
2. Christensen B. Abstention from filtered coffee reduces the concentrations of plasma homocysteine and serum cholesterol--a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr. Sep 2001;74(3):302-7.