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Monday, 25 March, 2002, 13:11 GMT
Coffee worries 'groundless'
coffee beans
There are fears drinking too much coffee is bad for you
Moderate consumption of coffee has no impact on blood pressure - even over 30 years - according to the latest research.

There had been fears that drinking even relatively small amounts of coffee could raise blood pressure levels and perhaps have some impact on health.

However, a study conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University suggests that a couple of cups a day may do no harm.

The team looked at more than 1,000 white males who graduated from the university's medical school between 1948 and 1964.

The vast majority of them were coffee drinkers - drinking, on average, about two cups a day.

30 years

Their coffee intake was checked more than 10 times over the following three decades, to see whether any increases in blood pressure could be linked to increases in coffee consumption.


Having three or four cups of coffee a day is not going to do any harm

Spokesman, British Nutrition Foundation
However, there was no evidence that coffee could be connected to anything more than tiny increases in blood pressure.

The report concluded: "Long-term coffee drinking did not substantially increase the risk of developing hypertension.

"Over many years of follow-up, coffee drinking is associated wtih small increases in blood pressure but appears to play a small role in the development of hypertension."

Doctors are keen to control blood pressure because, over time, it can increase the chance of a patient suffering arterial damage which could contribute to heart disease.

Risks

However, in general, the jury is still out on the health risks, if any, of drinking coffee.

Pregnant women in the UK were recently advised to drink no more than four cups a day because of worries that heavy consumption could increase the risk of miscarriage.

A spokesman for the British Nutrition Foundation said: "Having three or four cups of coffee a day is not going to do any harm - unless you are one of the few people who has a predisposition to be sensitive to caffeine.

"In pregnancy, having a couple of cups a day has not been shown to be detrimental."

The caffeine that coffee contains is a stimulant, and in the short term, after drinking coffee, alertness benefits - although once the caffeine "high" has passed, people may become far less alert.

There have also been warnings that coffee may contain chemicals linked to heart attacks and strokes, although no direct link has been established.

See also:

25 Nov 99 | Health
Caffeine blamed for miscarriages
07 Jun 00 | Health
Coffee 'fights allergies'
29 Jan 01 | Health
Caffeine 'reduces productivity'
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