Science Just Busted This Age-Old Coffee Myth
Considering yourself a coffee addict might not be such a bad thing after all.
You can — and should — sip away worry-free. According to a new study, regular caffeine consumption doesn’t cause heart palpitations or unhealthy heartbeat patterns, contrary to popular belief. In fact, rather than downsides, it likely has cardiovascular benefits.
Researchers from the University of California San Francisco examined 1,388 people with an average age of 72 who were taking part in a larger heart study, specifically the 60% of the group who said consuming caffeine (think coffee, tea, and chocolate) was part of their daily routine.
They looked for heart irregularities — premature ventricular and atrial contractions — in the participants over a year, but found that there were no differences among the subjects, regardless of their caffeine intake.
"Therefore, we are only able to conclude that in general, consuming caffeinated products every day is not associated with having increased ectopy or arrhythmia but cannot specify a particular amount per day," senior author Dr. Gregory Marcus, a cardiologist at the University of California San Francisco and colleagues wrote in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
Still, it seems like it might be time for doctors — not you — to lighten up on the coffee.
“Clinical recommendations advising against the regular consumption of caffeinated products to prevent disturbances of the heart’s cardiac rhythm should be reconsidered, as we may unnecessarily be discouraging consumption of items like chocolate, coffee and tea that might actually have cardiovascular benefits,” said Marcus in a press release. “Given our recent work demonstrating that extra heartbeats can be dangerous, this finding is especially relevant.”
But this is far from the first time science has supported your daily java chugging habit.
Previous studies have found that moderate consumption of coffee (up to five cups per day) can make you less likely to die from cardiovascular disease, neurological diseases, type 2 diabetes, and suicide.
"According to the Harvard School of Public Health, coffee consumption has been associated with a reduced risk for the development of type 2 diabetes (T2D)," writes neurologist Dr. David Perlmutter, a Fellow of the American College of Nutrition, in a blog post. "T2D is characterized by elevation of blood sugar and that can have implications for any and all parts of the body. From my perspective as a neurologist, T2D is thought to actually double a person’s risk for the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
"Harvard also reports that regular coffee consumption could lower the rate at which liver cancer progresses, may help prevent gallstones, is not harmful with respect to heart attacks or strokes, and may well be associated with a reduced risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, a movement disorder now diagnosed in about half a million Americans."
And it doesn't stop there. Coffee, it seems, is a jack of all trades.
But before you press brew, it's important to be aware of how your body responds to caffeine. Know your jitter threshold. Past research suggests that introverted people — and those more prone to anxiety — have a harder time focusing on the task at hand after drinking coffee than extraverts.
Well, regardless, let's all clink mugs — no matter how much you fill it — and drink to our health!