Coffee and tea may taste quite different, but one thing these beverages they have in common is their rich content of ‘antioxidants’ including ‘polyphenols’. The presence of these supposedly health-giving substances may explain, at least in part, the reason why these drinks have been associated with a reduced risk of chronic conditions including cardiovascular disease and some forms of cancer.
Not so long ago, for instance, I covered some research which linked tea and coffee drinking with a reduced risk of stroke in men. In a study published on-line this week, the association between coffee-drinking and stroke risk was examined in women . The study assessed the coffee drinking habits of more than 83,000 women every 2-4 years over a 24-year period.
It is possible that any association between coffee-drinking and stroke is not necessarily to do with the coffee per se, but perhaps other so-called ‘confounding’ factors that may affect stroke risk such as age, smoking, body mass index, physical activity, alcohol intake and dietary factors. Having accounted for these (and other) factors, the authors found that coffee-drinking was associated with a statistically significant reduced risk of stroke.
Compared to women drinking less than one cup of coffee a month, women drinking 2-3 cups a day were at a 19 per cent reduced risk of stroke. Women drinking four or more cups a day were at a 20 per cent reduced risk of stroke.
If this reflects a true benefit from coffee-drinking, then it was nullified by smoking: Current smokers drinking four or more cups of coffee a day did not see any reduction in risk from stroke. However, past or never-smokers at this level of coffee consumption had a 43 per cent reduced risk of stroke compared to those drinking less than a cup of coffee a month.
The results of this study suggest that coffee-drinking helps to reduce stroke risk in women, as similar research in men had previously shown. And this study provides yet more evidence linking coffee-consumption with potential benefits for health.
1. Lopez-Garcia E, et al. Coffee Consumption and Risk of Stroke in Women. Circulation 2009:February 16, 2009, published online before print.