Coffee associated with lower stroke risk

Study finds java drinkers 71 percent as likely to have had stroke as nondrinkers

SAN ANTONIO — People who drink coffee are nearly one-third less likely than nondrinkers to develop a stroke, a new study suggests. It didn’t matter if the brew was drip grind, decaffeinated or even lowly instant.

Epidemiologist Yangmei Li of the University of Cambridge in England and her colleagues analyzed the health records of more than 20,000 European men and women between the ages of 39 and 79 who were free of stroke history, heart disease and cancer when they provided lifestyle information for a health study in the mid-1990s.

Over the next 12 years, people in the group had 855 strokes. After taking into account factors such as smoking, physical activity, weight, physical activity, tea drinking, blood pressure and cholesterol, the researchers found that coffee drinkers were only 71 percent as likely to have had a stroke as the coffee avoiders. Li presented the results February 25 at the International Stroke Meeting.

It didn’t matter whether a person reported drinking one cup a day or four. “We didn’t really find a dose response,” Li said.

Previous studies have turned up evidence suggesting that coffee improves insulin sensitivity in the body, which would be protective against type 2 diabetes. Other work suggests drinking coffee might inhibit blood clots by limiting platelet aggregation, Li said. Still other research suggests that coffee components may act as anti-inflammatory agents and have antioxidant effects, she said.

The new study finds an association between coffee drinking and fewer strokes but doesn’t provide information on these potential mechanisms of action, she said.

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