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Coffee linked to rheumatoid arthritis

People who drink four or more cups of coffee per day are significantly more likely to get rheumatoid arthritis than are people drinking less, scientists in Finland report in the August Annals of Rheumatoid Diseases.

The researchers analyzed the habits of 18,981 adults between the early 1970s and 1989. Mobile health-examination teams of nurses had amassed data on lifestyle and diet in four areas of Finland. The coffee study included only participants who were free of rheumatoid arthritis at the start.

By 1989, only 0.4 percent of 4,641 people who drank three cups of coffee or less per day had rheumatoid arthritis, whereas 0.8 percent of 14,340 people drinking 4 or more cups had developed the disease, says study coauthor Markku Heliövaara, a physician and epidemiologist at the National Public Health Institute in Helsinki.

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