By Jenny Cook
If you’re a coffee lover, then the news just keeps getting better. Back in August we reported that this much-loved drink may help reduce the risk of early death, and now it seems it can boost heart health, too.
Following one of the largest and longest-running studies in US history, it was concluded that coffee consumption was linked to a lower risk of heart failure, stroke and coronary heart disease. Indeed, it seems the benefits get greater and greater with every coffee consumed up to at least six cups a day.
Scientists analysed data from the Framingham Heart Study, which has tracked the eating patterns of more than 15,000 people since the 1940s in search for previously unidentified risk factors for heart failure and stroke. They used artificial intelligence (called ‘machine learning’) to keep an eye out for any patterns within the large data set, which in turn led to this latest discovery about the world’s favourite caffeinated drink.
For coffee drinkers, every 8-ounce cup per day reduced these risks by 7%, 8% and 5%, respectively, compared to people who didn’t drink coffee. 97% consumed between one and six cups of coffee a day, so it’s difficult for the researchers to know for sure if the benefits continue at even higher consumption levels. Lead author Laura Stevens, of the University of Colorado, said:
“The association between drinking coffee and a decreased risk of heart failure and stroke was consistently noted… The work showed that each additional cup per day had an associated decrease of each outcome.”
In an email to Time she added:
“Ultimately, our key goals are to determine whether coffee consumption is a clinically useful part of cardiovascular disease risk assessment, and whether changing coffee or caffeine consumption may be a way of altering that risk.”
These findings support the concept that machine learning may help researchers identify unknown risk or preventative factors for disease, as the current risk-assessment tools used to predict an individual’s likelihood of developing heart disease are not 100% accurate.
The study has not yet been published or peer-reviewed in a medical journal, but it was presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2017.