Background: For many years, an association between coffee consumption and the risk of coronary heart disease has been suspected. Although based on small numbers of end points, a prospective study has suggested a particularly strong association between recent coffee drinking and the incidence of cardiovascular disease.
Methods: We examined prospectively the relation of coffee consumption with the risk of myocardial infarction, need for coronary-artery bypass grafting or angioplasty, and risk of stroke in a cohort of 45,589 U.S. men who were 40 to 75 years old in 1986 and who had no history of cardiovascular disease.
Results: During two years of follow-up observation, 221 participants had a nonfatal myocardial infarction or died of coronary heart disease, 136 underwent coronary-artery surgery or angioplasty, and 54 had a stroke. Total coffee consumption was not associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease or stroke. The age-adjusted relative risk for all cardiovascular disease among participants who drank four or more cups of coffee per day was 1.04 (95 percent confidence intervals, 0.74 to 1.46). Increasing levels of consumption of caffeinated coffee were not associated with higher risks of cardiovascular disease. Higher consumption of decaffeinated coffee, however, was associated with a marginally significant increase in the risk of coronary heart disease (relative risk, 1.63; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.02 to 2.60). Finally, we observed no pattern of increased risk across the subgroups of participants with increasing intakes of caffeine from all sources. Adjustment for major cardiovascular-risk indicators, dietary intake of fats, and cholesterol intake did not materially alter these associations.
Conclusions: These findings do not support the hypothesis that coffee or caffeine consumption increases the risk of coronary heart disease or stroke.