Many of us drink coffee. Usually, first thing in the morning to jumpstart the day. And then, perhaps, here and there throughout the day. Coffee is one of the most consumed beverages worldwide, and its charms have even been promoted – notably, but not exclusively – by Frank Sinatra. That’s not a bad endorsement!
Still, coffee has its fair share of boosters and critics. And it’s fair to say, many of the brew’s opponents have been harsh. Recently, however, The New England Journal of Medicine published a research report on coffee consumption, and we’d like to share their findings with you. We feel they’re relevant to our younger followers as well as those retired or pre-retired.
“The big picture finding is that there isn’t just one single health-related consequence of consuming coffee, but that the reality is more complicated than that,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Gregory Marcus, a cardiologist and professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.
“The great majority of research on the topic has been observational, meaning we just look and see at what happens to people who do and don’t drink coffee, which is profoundly limited by the possibility that … there may be some other characteristic that is driving whether someone happens to drink coffee,” Marcus said. “The only way to mitigate those potential effects was to conduct a randomised interventional trial.”
The Sample Group
- Participants included 100 healthy adults (both genders) who were age 39 on average and from the San Francisco area.
- Participants were equipped with Fitbits to track their steps and sleep, as well as with continuous blood glucose monitors and electrocardiogram devices that tracked their heart rhythms.
- Each participant was assigned to drink as much coffee as they wanted for two days, then abstain for two days, repeating that cycle over a two-week period.
- On coffee-drinking days, participants took an average of 1,058 more steps than they did on abstention days.
- On those days, sleep took a hit, with participants getting 36 fewer minutes of shut eye.
- The more coffee they drank, the more physical activity and the less sleep they got.
While these findings support what we mostly already know about coffee consumption, its impact on the heart is somewhat disturbing – especially for those suffering from the heart irregularity known as premature atrial contractions (PACs), or a flutter or skipped beat in the chest.
The study suggests that people with this condition are at a 50% higher risk of premature ventricular contractions (PVCs) than those who avoid coffee altogether. That isn’t insignificant!
This is unsettling news for those of our followers who suffer from the above conditions. So, if you are one of them, and drink coffee frequently during the day, you may wish to limit your coffee consumption to a single cup. Or, ask your doctor for personalized advice – your health is worth the effort.