By Calvin Palmer
As regular readers will know, I am a coffee and cigarettes man. The cigarettes may well have little in the way of beneficial effects, apart from being pleasurable, but it would appear that caffeine affords some protection for my heart.
Researchers in California have discovered that regular coffee drinkers are less likely to be admitted to hospital with irregular heartbeats, or arrhythmia as it is known, and the more coffee they drink a day, the less likely there are to suffer from the condition.
A study by Kaiser Permanente’s Division of Research, in Oakland, has found that coffee in all but very high doses affords some protection from heart disease and conditions.
Cardiologist Dr Arthur Klatsky and his team followed 130,054 men and women, aged 18 to 90, and found that those who drank four or more cups of coffee each day had an 18 per cent lower risk of hospitalization for heart rhythm disturbances.
Those who reported drinking one to three cups each day had a seven per cent reduction in risk compared to abstainers.
The differences held up even when the scientists accounted for smoking status, gender, weight, cardiac history, education and other differences between the groups.
Dr Klatsky told the American Heart Association’s 50th Annual Conference in San Francisco that while his findings did not automatically suggest that coffee alone was responsible for the link, they did appear to show coffee did no harm.
“The association does not prove cause and effect, or that coffee has a protective effect,” Dr Klatsky said. “However, these data might be reassuring to people who drink moderate amounts of coffee that their habit is not likely to cause a major rhythm disturbance.”
His results follow other research showing that coffee appears to have a protective effect on the heart.
A report from the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, in Spain, showed that drinking three cups of coffee a day could reduce the risk of women dying from heart disease by a quarter.
Another study showed that men who drank five or more cups of coffee were 44 per cent less likely to die from the disease.
Last week, epidemiologist Yangmei Li, of the University of Cambridge, in England, reported that people who drink coffee are nearly one-third less likely than nondrinkers to develop a stroke.
Previous studies have found evidence suggesting that coffee improves insulin sensitivity in the body, which would be protective against type 2 diabetes, Li said.
While other suggests that coffee components may act as anti-inflammatory agents and have antioxidant effects.
Although her study establishes an association between coffee drinking and fewer strokes, Li said it does not provide information on these potential mechanisms of action.
All I need now is research showing tobacco can ward off some disease or other and I will be laughing all the way to my grave. However, I doubt such results would ever see the light of day due to the power of the anti-smoking lobby. Still, it would diffuse the red herring of raising state taxes on tobacco to reduce healthcare costs.