New Evidence That Coffee Is NOT Harmful

Coffee has received a bad rap over the last decade or so because it can raise blood pressure, give people the jitters and increase heart and breathing rate (among other side effects). Some studies have even shown that coffee can cause an irregular heartbeat, but new evidence suggests that an irregular heartbeat may not be a consequence of drinking coffee after all.

What Does the Science Say?
Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco studied 1,388 older people (participating in the Cardiovascular Health Study), 61% of whom consumed at least one serving of a caffeinated product (coffee, tea or chocolate) per day over the past year. The researchers measured PACs, premature atrial contractions, and PVCs, premature ventricular contractions—two types of irregular heartbeat that occur in the atrium or ventricle of the heart. After analyzing data in multiple ways, researchers determined that eating or drinking caffeinated products was not related to irregular or extra heartbeats.

These new results are encouraging, given past findings. A previous case study showed that caffeine may have a direct correlation to heart arrhythmia, and another study of more than 1,700 people tied increased caffeine consumption from coffee to increased arrhythmia incidence as well. Oddly enough, the same study also found that tea intake lowered this risk, which may mean the data wasn’t all that reliable. This new evidence contradicts this past information and, in fact, actually seems to point to favorable health outcomes.

The Buzz Around Coffee…
Coffee has been somewhat of a hot topic lately and has been shown to have many positive health benefits. We recently published an article discussing how coffee may actually increase longevity or, more accurately, reduce your risk for premature death. Moderate coffee intake has also been associated with a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and heart failure. This information is summarized in a recent New York Times article, which mentions further benefits such as reduced risk of liver disease, Parkinson’s disease and improved cognitive health, among others.

So, next time you groggily roll out of bed in need of a morning boost, don’t let your heart skip a beat thinking about drinking a cup or two of joe to start your day.

(Feature photo courtesy of

Matthew Poulsen

Matthew Poulsen is an intern with the Healthy Aging Project, and a student in the Integrative Physiology Department at the University of Colorado Boulder.