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Coffee Linked With Lower Stroke Risk

Diane Fennell

March 19, 2010

Drinking one cup of coffee per day, either regular or decaffeinated, is associated with a roughly 30% reduced risk of stroke, according to a recent study conducted at the University of Cambridge, in England. This news follows recent research indicating that the consumption of coffee or tea can lower a person’s risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Using data from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer (EPIC)-Norfolk, researchers looked at 9,978 men and 12,254 women between the ages of 39 and 79 who were free from heart disease, stroke, and cancer at the start of EPIC-Norfolk in the mid-1990’s. A total of 17,807 participants reported drinking coffee (3.1 cups a day on average), while 4,425 said they never drank coffee.

Over approximately 12 years of follow-up, 855 strokes occurred. People who reported drinking any amount of coffee had a 27% reduced risk of stroke compared to people who said they never drank coffee. The results remained the same after adjusting for a variety of factors, including smoking, social class, body-mass index, physical activity, and diabetes.

Although she could not identify a mechanism by which coffee appears to lower stroke risk, researcher Yangmei Li, MPhil, suggested that compounds in coffee might play a role by improving insulin sensitivity, inhibiting the clumping of platelets in the blood, and decreasing endothelial dysfunction (dysfunction of the cells that line the blood vessels).

Daniel Lackland, DrPH, of the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, commented on the study, noting that the main weakness was the use of self-reported information, which made it difficult to determine the actual amount of coffee consumed. He also stated that, until a mechanism could be established, coffee consumption was unlikely to be recommended by the medical community as a way to prevent strokes.

For more information, see the article “ASA: Coffee Drinkers Have Lower Stroke Risk.”

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