Study finds too much coffee can increase risk of cardiovascular disease

Researchers from the Australian Center for Precision Health at the University of South Australia have published the world's first genetic study that found long-term, heavy coffee consumption can increase the amount of lipids in the blood and significantly increase the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). In the study, long-term heavy coffee consumption is considered six or more cups per day. The study points out that the correlation is positive and dose-dependent, meaning the more coffee you drink, the greater the risk of CVD.

Professor Elina Hyppönen, a researcher on the project, says that there is a lot of scientific debate about coffee's pros and cons. It's important to understand how one of the most commonly consumed drinks in the world impacts heart health. She said the study looked at genetic and phenotypic associations between coffee intake and plasma lipid profiles.

Plasma lipid profiles are the amount of cholesterols and fats in the blood and found evidence that habitual coffee consumption does contribute to an adverse lipid profile, increasing the risk of heart disease. High levels of blood lipids are a known risk factor for heart disease, and coffee beans contain a powerful cholesterol-elevating compound called cafestol.

That compound is mainly present in unfiltered coffee like French press, Turkish, and Greek coffees. It's also present in espressos, which is the base for many coffees you might buy in a shop, including lattes and cappuccinos. The researchers note there is little or no cafestol in filtered or instant coffee, making those better choices for people concerned about lipids and CVD.

Coffee is a massively popular drink around the world, with an estimated 3 billion cups consumed daily. Cardiovascular disease is the top cause of death around the globe, taking 17.9 million lives each year. The study used data from 362,571 UK Biobank participants between 37 and 73 years of age using triangulation of phenotypic and genetic approaches for comprehensive analysis.