Expert Q&A

Heart disease and coffee: Are coffee-drinkers more likely to get heart disease?

Is there any relationship between drinking coffee and heart disease? I've read conflicting studies.

Coffee drinking is widespread, and it’s been investigated for connection to all kinds of diseases, from breast cancer to heart attacks. Some recent research claims that 6 cups of coffee per day raises blood levels of homocysteine (a coronary risk factor) about 10%. Another study claimed that 4-5 cups per day slightly raised blood pressure. Several other studies show that coffee drinkers didn’t have higher rates of heart disease. One study performed in Finland (where coffee consumption is very high) showed that non-coffee drinkers had the highest death rate from heart disease.

The problem with many of these studies is that they rely on subjects accurately reporting how much coffee they drink. Data on other health behaviors, like smoking, diet quality, exercise and alcohol use, are absent. Since heavy coffee consumption frequently goes along with other lifestyle choices, it’s impossible to know if the coffee caused a problem, or was just a marker for poor lifestyle choices. So the answer is, no, there is no clearly established link between coffee and heart disease.

For further information on coffee alternatives see the following article from TheDietChannel: Coffee Alternatives For Coffee Addicts.

Donna Feldman, MS, RD
Contributing Expert

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