Consuming moderate-to-high amounts of coffee is associated with increased levels of several inflammatory markers, a finding that could help explain previous reports linking the beverage to heart disease.
Ongoing, low-level inflammation is thought to be an underlying factor in the development of heart disease.
The latest findings, which appear in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, are based on a study of about 3000 subjects with no history of cardiovascular disease. A food-frequency questionnaire was used to assess coffee intake, and blood samples were tested for levels of various compounds that are known to promote, or are a marker of, inflammation.
Compared with subjects who did not drink coffee, those who consumed more than about 1 cup of the beverage per day had significantly higher levels of all the inflammatory markers tested, Dr. Demosthenes B. Panagiotakos, from Harokopio University in Athens, and colleagues report.
The results held true even after factoring in age, gender, smoking, body weight, physical activity, and other potential confounders, the researchers point out.
Although the findings provide a mechanism by which coffee intake could promote heart disease, the authors note that not all previous studies have identified an association between the two. Hence, further studies are needed to confirm the present findings.
SOURCE: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, October 2004.
Revision date: July 8, 2011
Last revised: by Sebastian Scheller, MD, ScD