A recent study shows that there is such a thing as too much coffee – at least for your cardiovascular health. Based on their research, the scientists pinpointed six cups of coffee as the maximum number that people should drink per day.
This new study affects a lot of people because, needless to say, there are so many people who drink coffee – you might even be drinking a cup right now! It’s done at different times during the day and for a variety of reasons – in the morning to wake up, in the afternoon to regain energy, as well as throughout the day because they find the flavor enjoyable.
In fact, the amount of coffee Americans drink per year is rising. There’s been a steady increase in the amount consumed since 2016/2017, and, according to statista.com, “Coffee consumption in the United States amounted to nearly 26.5 million 60-kilogram [about 132 lbs] bags in the 2018/2019 fiscal year.”
Furthermore, a significant number of people drink at least one cup of coffee daily. According to a 2018 Reuters article, “Sixty-four percent of Americans age 18 or over said they had a cup of coffee the previous day in 2018.”
Benefits and drawbacks of coffee
However, there are a lot of benefits to drinking coffee. “According to Medical News Today, “Many recent studies have suggested that drinking coffee can bring a number of benefits in addition to enhancing focus and productivity. In fact, researchers have argued that coffee can help maintain brain health, help increase a person’s lifespan, and even slow down prostate cancer.”
Yet, despite all that, coffee is still similar to most other food and drinks – it should be consumed in relative and reasonable moderation. Additionally, because of the amount of caffeine in coffee, there are some downsides to drinking too much of it, including headaches, dizziness and nausea.
Additionally, according to one of the co-authors of the study, Professor Elina Hyppönen, “‘Most people would agree that if you drink a lot of coffee, you might feel jittery, irritable, or perhaps even [nauseous] – that’s because caffeine helps your body work faster and harder, but it is also likely to suggest that you may have reached your limit for the time being’.”
Background of the study
The researchers who conducted this study, which was published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, were from the University of South Australia (a public research university in Adelaide). They referenced – and built off of – a previous study that had looked at people with a specific version of the CYP1A2 gene.
The other study found that those with the gene variation metabolized caffeine less efficiently than those without the variation. According to the Medical News Today article, “This can put them at an increased risk of developing high blood pressure (hypertension) and cardiovascular disease.”
So, for the researchers of this study, the goal was to find out how much coffee someone would have to drink to increase their risk of developing cardiovascular issues – for people with and without the gene variant.
The study and its findings
They analyzed the data of 347,077 people, with ages ranging between 37 and 73 years old, with 8,368 people having been officially diagnosed with cardiovascular disease prior to the study. “[T]he scientists looked at how much coffee the participants drank per day, whether or not they had the genetic variant that resulted in slow caffeine metabolism, and how likely they were to develop cardiovascular disease,” the Medical News Today article said.
One finding that they had that directly linked back to the other study is that those without the CYP1A2 gene variant can process caffeine four times faster than those with the variant. However, while interesting, that finding has a second part to it – having the gene variant (or not) doesn’t significantly affect your risk of developing cardiovascular issues.
In fact, the amount of coffee consumed daily plays a bigger role in cardiovascular health.
According to the Medical News Today article, “[A]ll the people who frequently drank six or more cups of coffee per day – the scientists defined one cup as containing around 75 milligrams of caffeine – had a modest increase in cardiovascular disease risk.” Now, unless you look into it, it can be hard to tell how many milligrams of caffeine are in your coffee cup. However, it’s estimated that there are about 95 milligrams in the average cup, although it can range from almost nothing to over 500 milligrams, depending on the type of coffee drink.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest actually has a “Caffeine Chart” that lists the amount of caffeine in some of the most popular coffees. This includes ones made at popular chains, such as Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts, as well as coffee that can be made at home from well-known ground coffee brands, like Maxwell House and Folgers.
Part of this finding could also have to do with the connection between the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure, the latter of which is often something that happens with excess caffeine consumption, Hyppönen noted.
Overall, Hyppönen said the information from this study is important. “‘Knowing the limits of what’s good for you and what’s not is imperative’,” Hyppönen said in the Medical News Today article. “‘As with many things…it’s all about moderation; overindulge and your health will pay for it’.”