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Wake up and smell the coffee (then drink it)

Comment by Christi Deaton, Primary Care and Risk Factor Management Section

Preventive Cardiology
Risk Factors and Prevention

Good news for everyone who loves the smell and taste of coffee. Light to moderate coffee drinking has been associated with a lower risk of mortality in a study using data from the United Kingdom (UK) Biobank. (1) In this analysis 468,629 individuals aged 40–69 years (mean age 56 + 8 years; 56% women) without manifest heart disease at baseline were evaluated by medical history, lifestyle and nutritional habits, physical examination and blood tests. A secondary analysis invited participants to undergo imaging of brain, whole body, carotid artery, bone and joints, and imaging of the heart by CMR. Median follow-up was 11 years (IQR 10 -12).

Participants with light to moderate coffee intake (0.5 to 3 cups daily) after adjusting for confounders and mediators was associated with decreased all-cause [HR = 0.88 (95% CI = 0.83–0.92), p < 0.001] and CV mortality [HR = 0.83 (95% CI = 0.74–0.94) p = 0.006] and lower stroke incidence [HR = 0.79 (95% CI = 0.63–0.99),  p= 0.037] as compared to those who drank no coffee. High coffee intake (> 3 cups per day) was linked to increased all-cause and CV mortality in comparison to zero coffee drinkers but was not significant after adjustment for confounders. Both decaffeinated and ground coffee were associated with beneficial effects. CMR imaging of the heart was available in over 30,000 participants and indicated that light-to-moderate and high coffee consuming categories were associated with dose-dependent increased left and right ventricular end-diastolic, end-systolic and stroke volumes, and greater left ventricular mass.

In light of this analysis and the Tromsø Study (2), it seems prudent to recommend that coffee consumption be kept to < 3 cups per day. The Tromsø Study found that 3-5 cups of espresso coffee, > 6 cups of boiled/plunger or filter coffee per day were associated with increases in serum total cholesterol.

Also of interest:

Read the interview with Maja-Lisa Løchen, co-author of the Tromsø Study. 


Christi Deaton commented on this article:

1) Simon J, Fung K, Raisi-Estabragh Z, Aung N, Khanji MY, Kolossvary M, Merkely B, Munroe PB, Harvey NC, Piechnik SK, Neubauer S, Petersen SE, Maurovich-Horvat P. Light to moderate coffee consumption is associated with lower risk of death: a UK Biobank study. European Journal of Preventive Cardiology. 2022; 29: 982 – 991.

additional references:

2) Svatun AL, Lochen M-L, Thelle DS, Wilsgaard T. Association between espresso coffee and serum total cholesterol: the Tromsø Study 2015–2016.  Open Heart. 2022; 9: 

Notes to editor

Note: The content of this article reflects the personal opinion of the author/s and is not necessarily the official position of the European Society of Cardiology.