A study has found that people with symptoms of cardiovascular health issues, such as angina and heart palpitations, tend to drink less coffee, avoid coffee altogether, or drink decaf.
The scientists used a genetic technique to show that these symptoms determine the amount of coffee people drink, rather than the other way round.
The research casts doubt on observational evidence that drinking moderate amounts of coffee can benefit cardiovascular health.
The unmistakable taste and smell of coffee — not to mention its ability to perk people up in the morning — have made it one of the world’s most popular beverages.
Better still, observational studies indicate that coffee may protect against cardiovascular disease, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and certain cancers.
Prospective studiesTrusted Source, which follow people over time, have provided evidence that drinking this beverage is safe for most people and is associated with lower mortality rates.
However, a new study suggests that some of the supposed health benefits of coffee for cardiovascular health may have been overblown. The research was limited to white British participants.
As a result of the caffeine that coffee contains, excessive consumption can cause unpleasant symptoms such as tachycardia (a fast resting heart rate) and palpitations.
Drinking coffee can also lead to a moderate, temporary increase in blood pressure.
So it may come as a surprise that regular coffee drinkers either have normal or reduced blood pressure compared with people who do not drink coffee.
One explanation may be that coffee drinkers develop a physiological tolerance for the effects of caffeine.
But a new study suggests that people with a high genetic risk of cardiovascular disease unconsciously reduce how much they drink to avoid unpleasant cardiovascular symptoms.
The research found that individuals with high blood pressure, angina, or arrhythmia drank less caffeinated coffee and were more likely to drink decaffeinated coffee.
Crucially, there was strong evidence that their genetic vulnerability to cardiovascular disease led to their reduced consumption of coffee.