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Caffeine and Your Heart May Not be at Odds After All

Researchers from Harvard University recently conducted a study to assess the link between caffeine and the risk of cardiovascular events. To their surprise, they found no increased risk and even discovered a potential benefit.

Their findings were published online in the June 2010 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The large study included over 33,000 healthy women under the age of 45 with no history of cardiovascular disease at the start of the study.

The women were followed from 1993-2009. During that time they completed food-frequency questionnaires in order to determine caffeine intake. During the 14 year follow-up, the researchers recorded 984 cases of arterial fibrillation.

Arterial fibrillation is a disorder that affects the heart’s ability to effectively pump blood, leading to a large increase in the risk of stroke. Arterial fibrillation currently affects about 2.2 million Americans.

The researchers used a variety of statistical analyses to gauge the link between caffeine intake and arterial fibrillation. They found that caffeine was not significantly associated with arterial fibrillation.

There is a commonly held belief that caffeine increases the risk of heart events but the researchers found no such association. In fact, they actually observed a slight protective effect.

Although it is not wise to encourage excessive consumption of caffeine, previous studies have found that regular consumption of caffeine may provide a number of health benefits. These benefits are particularly associated with coffee, which has been linked to reductions in the risk of prostate cancer, cirrhosis and oral cavities.

Over half a dozen different studies have also shown that people who drink coffee regularly are up to 80% less likely to develop Parkinson's disease.

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