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Women and Coffee Consumption: Is Coffee Safe to Drink?

The controversy has raged for years: is coffee good for women, or is it harmful to their health? A new Swedish study aimed to answer this question, with welcome results for women who enjoy their java.

The new study, which has been reported in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association, included more than 30,000 women, whose coffee consumption was followed for 10 years. The results demonstrate that low or no coffee consumption is linked to a higher risk of stroke. Many studies have been done to examine the link between coffee drinking and risk of stroke and/or death, with inconclusive or inconsistent results.

The women in the study completed questionnaires at the beginning of the study. Stroke incidence was calculated from the Swedish Hospital Discharge Registry. Results indicated that the relative risk of suffering a stroke was lower for women who consumed 1 to 5 cups/day and higher; however, the positive effects of coffee drinking were negated in women who smoked, drank alcohol, had diabetes, had a high body mass index or had high blood pressure.

The study did not determine how coffee reduces the risk of stroke, but researchers involved in the study speculated that coffee consumption may:

• Decrease oxidative stress

• Improve insulin sensitivity

• Decrease subclinical inflammation

The researchers also admitted that there may be some unknown factor at work in reducing the risk of stroke among women who drink low to moderate amounts of coffee. Whatever it is that coffee does to reduce the risk of stroke, this study is good news for women who love coffee. Moderate coffee consumption has also been linked to lower risk of diabetes and liver disease. Of course, more studies are needed to validate this study.

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Source: "Coffee Consumption and Risk of Stroke in Women." Susanna C. Larsson, Jarmo Virtamo, and Alicja Wolk. Stroke, published online 10 March 2011.

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