August 16, 2013 3:36 pm
Updated: August 16, 2013 4:40 pm

More than 4 cups of coffee a day could put your health at risk, study suggests

There’s the early morning jolt of coffee in the morning, the latte at lunch and the 3 p.m. espresso – coffee consumption adds up during the day.

Monica Eng/Getty Images

TORONTO – There’s the early morning jolt of coffee, the latte at lunch and the 3 p.m. espresso, and this coffee consumption adds up during the day.

Story continues below

A new U.S. study that spans 30 years of health data is warning that people who drink more than four cups of coffee a day – or 28 cups a week – face a higher risk of dying young than their counterparts who aren’t relying on a regular caffeine fix. This four-drink warning is only applicable to those 55 and under, though.

Read more: Reality check: Could sugar substitutes cause diabetes?

The research comes out of the University of South Carolina and is based on a long-term, large-scale American lifestyle study. Some 43,000 subjects between 20 and 87 years old were studied between 1971 and 2002.

“From our study it seems safe to drink one to three cups of coffee a day,” the study’s co-author Xuemei Siu told USA Today. She’s an assistant professor of exercise science.

“Drinking more than four cups of coffee a day may endanger health,” she said.

The subjects were followed for almost two decades in the coffee study, filling out questionnaires about their medical history and lifestyle habits. At the 17-year follow up, 2,512 deaths had been documented, 88 per cent of them men. About one in three deaths was linked to cardiovascular disease.

Read more: Reality check: Seattle woman vows to drink and eat food only from Starbucks for a year

Data showed that men under 55 years old, who drank more than 28 cups of coffee per week, had a 56 per cent higher death rate than those who didn’t. Meanwhile, women faced a two-fold greater risk of dying compared to their counterparts who didn’t drink as much coffee.

Across the board, those who drank more coffee also had a tendency to smoke and exercise less, the data suggested.

Coffee has garnered mixed reaction from the medical community – research has pointed to it being a major source of antioxidants, a brain booster and an aid in fighting inflammation. These scientists point out that the beverage is made up of thousands of components. This time, the study says that it could be tampering with blood pressure and heart rate because it stimulates the release of adrenaline.

What’s at play is adrenaline and a chemical called homocysteine, which is allegedly linked to heart disease and dementia, the study’s press release said.

Read more: Reality check: Does eating chocolate cut risk of stroke?

While they don’t explain why the risk of death didn’t seem to present itself in older subjects, the researchers are warning young consumers to avoid heavy coffee consumption. They suggest young people avoid more than 28 cups a week (a cup is considered eight ounces).

In response, the U.S. National Coffee Association said the study’s findings are “out of step with prevailing science as well as widely accepted research methods.”

Its full statement is here. Read the full study here.

© 2013 Shaw Media

Report an error


Want to discuss? Please read our Commenting Policy first.