The latest coffee research says a couple of cups are safe for your heart -- even beneficial -- but watch it if you go further.
An analysis of five earlier studies that looked at coffee and the heart found that about two 8-ounce cups a day appear to protect against heart failure, decreasing the risk by as much as 11 percent. Much more increases the risk.
The work appears in the American Heart Association journal Circulation Heart Failure.
It runs counter to the long-held belief that any amount of coffee could be bad for the heart and should have doctors rethinking the role coffee plays in heart failure, said Elizabeth Mostofsky, the study's lead author and a research fellow at Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
Heart Association guidelines currently say that coffee might increase the risk, based on a single 2001 study, she said.
The new research analyzed a group of studies that looked at 140,220 people in Sweden and Finland. A typical serving of coffee there is about 4 ounces compared with about 8 ounces here, and the coffee tends to be stronger.
The researchers found a benefit for those who drink about two cups. That benefit, however, begins to disappear when people drink more coffee.
About 5.8 million Americans have heart failure.
The new research is limited in several ways. It looked at a mostly white European population, not at Americans. Also, any work that combines multiple studies has inherent weaknesses. And the study's results cannot be extrapolated to other caffeinated beverages, including tea and soda.
This study has no potential answers about what might be at play in the relationship between coffee and heart failure, but other research has focused on antioxidants and other compounds that might be protective, Mostofsky said.
There's a well-established link between coffee and reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes, she said, and people with heart failure often also have diabetes.
Another large study published last month found that coffee drinkers are 10 percent less likely to die early than those who don't drink it.
Dr. Lee Jordan, a heart-failure specialist at Riverside Methodist Hospital, said this week's coffee news is unlikely to prompt him to encourage people to change their habits. He'd be more inclined to tell people who already drink coffee that moderate consumption doesn't appear to hurt, Jordan said.
That said, "As somebody who enjoys his two large cups of coffee in the morning, I'm delighted to read it," he said.
There has been a lot of competing information on coffee in the past decade or two, and many doctors already tell their patients that coffee in moderation is OK, said Dr. Laxmi Mehta, clinical director of the Women's Cardiovascular Health Clinic at Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center and president of the board at the local branch of the American Heart Association.
Patients who have heart palpitations should continue to limit or eliminate caffeine consumption, she said.
Most Popular Stories
- Ex-Mobster to Bulger: Just Say Sorry
- Google Stock Split Ahead
- Guns Are Hot in California
- El Paso Symposium Offers Help to Startups
- Small Businesses Hiring, but Worry About Expense
- OSH Selling Most of Its Stores to Lowe's
- Home Lending Offices Not Seeing Effects of Pickup
- How Green Is Google?
- Florida Enterprises Look to Costa Rica
- San Francisco Renters Battle Over Conversions