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News / Health

Back off that last cup of joe

New study finds that too much coffee can be harmful to health

By Nancy Clanton, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published: May 20, 2019, 6:00am

Some mornings it might feel like you can’t get enough of it, but a new study suggests too much coffee can be harmful.

Studies have found that coffee consumption “may help prevent several chronic diseases, including Type 2 diabetes mellitus, Parkinson’s disease and liver disease.” There is little evidence that drinking moderate amounts of coffee — three to four cups a day — poses any health risk. The key words here are “moderate amounts.”

A new study from the University of South Australia suggests there is a point where drinking coffee becomes a health risk.

“Coffee is the most commonly consumed stimulant in the world — it wakes us up, boosts our energy and helps us focus — but people are always asking ‘How much caffeine is too much?’ ” professor Elina Hypponen, one of the study’s researchers, said in a press release.

Researchers at the university analyzed the health records and the self-reported coffee consumption of 347,077 people between the ages of 37 and 73 in the UK Biobank. The Biobank is a national and international health resource with unparalleled research opportunities, open to all bona fide health researchers.

Exploring upper limits

The study found that people who drink one to two cups of caffeinated coffee a day had a lower risk of cardiovascular disease than people who drank decaf or no coffee at all. But for individuals who consumed six or more cups of caffeinated coffee a day, the risk of cardiovascular disease increased 22 percent. The researchers found no genetic cause for this increase.

This is the first time an upper limit has been placed on safe coffee consumption and cardiovascular health.

“In order to maintain a healthy heart and a healthy blood pressure, people must limit their coffees to fewer than six cups a day — based on our data six was the tipping point where caffeine started to negatively affect cardiovascular risk,” Hypponen said.

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