Last month, one of my blog posts featured recent research which has linked the consumption of coffee with a reduced risk of death in women. The improved survival seen here appeared to essentially be down to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease (of which heart attacks and strokes are the most common forms).
This research is generally good news for female coffee-quaffers, I think, but recent research suggests that drinking coffee may bring benefits for men too. In a study published in the journal Stroke, researchers assessed the relationship between coffee drinking and stroke risk in more than 26,000 male Finnish smokers. Coffee consumption was assessed at the start of the study, and the men were followed-up over more than 13 years.
The researchers look at the relationship between coffee-drinking and the by far the most common type of stroke known as ‘cerebral infarction’ (caused by a blockage in a vessel supplying blood to the brain), as well as less common forms of stroke including cerebral haemorrhage (caused by leaking of blood into the brain from a damaged vessel). The researchers also accounted for the major known risk factors for cardiovascular disease and age.
The researchers found that:
Compared to men drinking less than 2 cups of coffee a day, men drinking 8 or more cups of coffee a day were at a 23 per cent reduced risk of cerebral infarction.
The researchers looked at the relationship between tea-drinking and stroke risk too. They found that:
Compared to men drinking no tea at all, those drinking 2 or more cups a day were at a 21 per cent reduced risk of cerebral infarction.
The researchers found no significant association between tea or coffee drinking and any other forms of stroke including cerebral haemorrhage.
So-called epidemiological studies of this nature cannot be used to conclude that coffee and/or tea can prevent stroke. And we do not know if the results would be the same in non-smokers. However, this evidence is consistent with a growing body of evidence which has shown a link between tea and/or coffee consumption and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. And both coffee and tea are noted to be rich in substances called ‘antioxidants’ which, in theory at least, could give them cardiovascular disease-protective potential. Overall, the news look good for coffee and tea drinkers of both sexes, I think.
Larsson SC, et al. Stroke. Coffee and Tea Consumption and Risk of Stroke Subtypes in Male Smokers. 2008;39:1681-1687