Can 2 Cups of Coffee a Day Increase Your Risk of Death?

Most people consider their morning latte healthy and pleasurable. Many studies have shown coffee is associated with health benefits like reduced risk of diabetes and heart disease.

However, new research finds people with an increasingly common health issue shouldn’t exceed more than one cup of coffee per day.


Study Looked at Over 18,500 People, Across 19 Years

The study, recently published in the Journal of the American Heart Association (JAHA), found people with severe hypertension had a significantly higher risk of death from heart attack, stroke, or other cardiovascular disease by drinking two or more cups of coffee daily.

Researchers discovered this by observing 12,035 women and 6,574 men enrolled in the Japan collaborative cohort study for cvaluation of cancer risk (JACC).

Participants were from 40 to 79 years old when they joined the program between 1988 and 1990, and were followed until 2009. They self-reported their daily coffee and tea intake during the study period.

The researchers split participants into five categories of blood pressure—two normal and three grades of high blood pressure.

Less than 130/85 was considered optimal/normal, with 130-139/85-89 considered to be high normal.

The three levels of hypertension were:

  • Grade-1 hypertension: 140-159/90-99.
  • Grade-2 hypertension: 160-179/100-109.
  • Grade-3 hypertension: 180/110 or higher.

People with High Blood Pressure More Susceptible to Effects of Caffeine

During nearly 19 years of follow-up, researchers recorded 842 cardiovascular-related deaths.

Study data showed two or more cups of coffee per day was associated with double the risk of cardiovascular disease death in people with blood pressure of 160/100mmHg or higher compared to those who didn’t drink any coffee.

“For the most part, as long as you consume coffee moderately,here are no major health concerns,” said Sreenivas Gudimetla, M.D., a cardiologist at Texas Health Fort Worth and Texas Health Physicians Group.

Drinking one daily cup of coffee or any amount of green tea wasn’t associated with increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease for any blood pressure categories.

People who drank coffee more frequently also tended to be younger, be current drinkers, eat fewer vegetables, and have higher total cholesterol levels and lower systolic blood pressure regardless of their assigned category.

Co-author Masayuki Teramoto, M.D., Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine in Japan and department of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco, told The Epoch Times that these findings don’t necessarily contradict previous research finding that coffee reduced the risk of heart disease.

Teramoto said that this study looked at whether the known protective effect of coffee also applies to individuals with different degrees of hypertension, while also examining the effects of green tea in the same population.

“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to find a positive association between heavy coffee consumption and cardiovascular disease mortality among people with severe hypertension,” said Teramoto.

He believes this is because people with high blood pressure are more susceptible to the effects of caffeine.

“Caffeine’s harmful effects may outweigh its protective effects and increase the risk of mortality in persons with severe hypertension,” Teramoto concluded.

Be Careful When Taking Data at Face Value

Gudimetla warned we must be careful when taking data like this at face value.

“As it is a retrospective analysis with patients in that cohort until 2009,” he said, as too much time passed since data was gathered.

He described the study data as being “all over the place,” regarding coffee consumption, and risk of cardiovascular events. Also, the data was self-reported which could have affected its accuracy.

“Is there a direct relationship between coffee consumption and the risk of higher cardiac events, or is it the fact that their blood pressures are too high, where they would have a higher risk of cardiac events anyway?” Gudimetla asked.

Self-reported data only provides information about the potential association of cause-and-effect, not a direct link between cause-and-effect.

“The reliability and validity of self-reported studies can be very flawed,” he said. “As the recall of data can be potentially inaccurate, and subjects tend to respond to questions in either extreme, and not necessarily in between.”

This doesn’t mean these types of studies have no value, and they excel at raising questions that merit further investigation. “So that we can better assess the accuracy of the information and incorporate it in our clinical decision making,” Gudimetla said.

Mixed Messages

Some early studies showed that coffee consumption could be detrimental, like this study from 1981 that found a “strong association between coffee drinking and pancreatic cancer.”

An article from 1984 described coffee as an emerging social problem and describes how drinking coffee has been “suspect” for 300 years and there is evidence that it can cause, among other serious illnesses, heart disease.

“However, in these studies, there was an association that most of the individuals enrolled were smokers and/or sedentary, which probably played a bigger part in their adverse cardiovascular outcomes than coffee consumption,” said Gudimetla.

“Moderate coffee consumption, i.e., 2 to 5 cups a day,” he explained, “has not been shown to be associated with an increase in cardiovascular events but has been shown to potentially decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease.”

An umbrella review of meta-analyses (Poole 2017) finds coffee associated with significant health benefits, like reduced incidence of:

  • Cardiovascular disease.
  • Depression.
  • Certain cancers.
  • Type 2 diabetes.

In 2020 scientists found caffeine was associated with significantly reduced risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. Another study found coffee was protective against dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Although there is one particular situation where caffeine might do harm.

An October 2022 study found that even small amounts of daily caffeine consumption by pregnant women was associated with shorter babies compared to those born to women who had no caffeine during pregnancy, and the difference persisted into childhood.

Reposted from:

Editor's Note:

In his book the “Complete Guide to Fasting,” Jason Fung, MD recommends drinking coffee with added coconut oil (medium chain triglycerides)/heavy cream (no CHO or protein) during fasting. Remarkably, caffeine stimulates autophagy (Nature 2013), while coconut oil has numerous health benefits (Dacasin 2021). 

A 2023 study (NEJM) reveals coffee is generally safe for your heart and may boost your daily step count. In their study, Marcus and his colleagues randomly assigned 100 people to either drink or not drink coffee each day for a period of two weeks. They found that drinking coffee did not result in more premature atrial contractions—the early heart beats associated with atrial fibrillation. That’s good news for people who were worried about that.

That said, a randomized controlled trial published by Zhu and colleagues in 2022, demonstrated that a moderate dosage of coffee causes acute retinal (eye) capillary perfusion and cerebral (brain) blood flow to decrease in healthy young individuals.

In the end, there may not be a simple answer to the question of whether coffee is good or bad for you. It depends on how much you consume, and each person is different. Coffee affects each person differently. So if drinking it makes you feel bad, skip it. But if, you enjoy it in moderation, go ahead and have that latte!


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