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Wednesday, March 03, 2010


I refer, of course, to this Bloomberg article discussing a study which concluded that drinking four or more cups of coffee a day was really great for your heart:
...drinking more coffee reduced the likelihood that patients would be hospitalized for irregular heartbeats, researchers found.

A study of 130,054 adults found that people who drank four cups or more of coffee daily had an 18 percent lower risk of being hospitalized for irregular heartbeats and other heart- rhythm conditions than noncoffee drinkers, researchers at Kaiser Permanente, an Oakland, California-based health system, said today. The risk of hospitalization was 7 percent lower for people who drank one to three cups of coffee daily, the researchers said.
Now I realize that some crass and crude (not to mention rude) denialists may raise some caviling, whining doubts about these findings along lines like:
But we, the coffee enthusiasts of this world, will reply that
Or maybe we won't. Maybe we will feel some small sense of shame which prevents it, developed while musing on the high probability that a person is not going to be hospitalized for arrhythmia unless the person is quite symptomatic, and that if the person's symptoms are serious and are made worse by coffee, such a person might well stop drinking coffee. Further, if a person has ever been diagnosed with some sort of heart rhythm irregularity and been told to stop drinking coffee, it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that the more serious cases probably would stop, or would reduce consumption, whereas most who were not having that much trouble might sneak in few more cups, see no effect, and go on merrily slurping the precious, life-giving fluid.

Many things are possible, but I stand my ground that coffee is a precious, life-giving fluid. Perhaps not for everyone, I will concede. In any case, I will carefully save this article just in case I ever theoretically developed problems with an irregular heartbeat, and (shudder) my doctor ever happened to observe it. Because, of course, I would never bring the subject up (and even theoretically, this certainly hasn't happened recently) due to the fact that my doctor might tell me to stop drinking coffee.

I have another line of defense prepared against that dire possibility: suppose a person (I am not admitting anything! This is a speculative person) really likes coffee, and might every-once-in-a-while be driven to drink some even if her doctor had told her to avoid it? Since people do habituate to the effects of caffeine, such a speculative person might then experience a very dangerous episode of irregular heartbeat. Clearly the safest course is to leave the precious, life-giving fluid intake alone due to the obvious protective effect of daily consumption!

And then there's the fact that this theoretical person might really have a very strong family history of diabetes, and several studies have shown that one of the precious, life-giving fluid's effects is to reduce the risk of developing Type II diabetes for women, and in fact is associated with lower death rates in women. Heh, heh. For men, coffee drinking has been associated with lower risk for severe prostrate cancer. Don't take vitamins, drink the precious, life-giving fluid. That is my motto.

Further, this speculative person with any sort of disease which is strongly associated with heart problems (which, Thank You, Dear Lord her doctor has never observed, much to his surprise) might have discovered, (speculatively and theoretically speaking) that if drinking coffee DID ever, which it does not now, cause episodes of irregular heartbeat, taking a quarter of an aspirin tablet cleared it up within five or ten minutes.

But in conclusion, this theoretical person would really not count on the conclusions of said study if your doctor has advised you to avoid caffeine, and this theoretical person is frankly rather amazed at the low standards of reporting nowadays, because the lead researcher did point out that the study's conclusions did not prove cause and effect, and of course they don't. Also, many of the observed good effects of coffee appear to be correlated with decaf consumption also.

I'll keep pounding back my coffee AND taking my Xenadrine RZR-X tabs (by Cytogenix). This is in spite of my heart condition. Either I lose the weight or I keel over dead -- both solutions are eminently workable so far as I'm concerned.
Or maybe if said speculative person has a metabolism that allows the drinking of four cups a day without obvious ill effects, said speculative person might just be at less risk of irregular heartbeat in the first place, regardless of said speculative person's medical history.
Thanks for the info.
Neil - only 27% of the people in the study weren't coffee drinkers. But if drinking coffee made you ill, it is hard to believe a person would form the habit in the first place. So certainly the sensitive population could screen themselves out early.

I stand by my contention that coffee is a precious, life-giving fluid, but one has to suspect that it isn't for everybody all the time. There truly doesn't seem to be anything in this study that would imply that coffee has a protective effect.
Meadowlark - best of luck.

"Many things are possible, but I stand my ground that coffee is a precious, life-giving fluid. Perhaps not for everyone, I will concede."

My word verification was "cultess". I think your "hypothetical" person may be the cultess of coffee! Coffee does seem to be a cult. We were just watching the documentary about Starbucks last night on TV. Who am I to talk?

I failed to acquire many of the acquired tastes. I guess I'm just too stubborn.

There's a similar theoretical person who likes salty gatorade. He'd work out for hours on a healthrider and/or stair stepper while watching movies and/or basketball games.

In the distant past, before he was even born, this theoretical person's dad was given salt pills while doing physical work all day.

Salt. It's what's for dinner. We'd die without it.

I forget. Can we eat salt again or not? I should warn you that the hypothetical salty gatorade person is fairly stubborn though, just like I am. ;)

From 2006...


"Dr Hillel Cohen and colleagues from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, along with Dr Michael Alderman, president of the International Society of Hypertension, recently suggested that people who reported eating less salt than is recommended by UK and US government guidelines were 37 per cent more likely to die from cardiovascular causes than those who ate more.

The study, published in the American Journal of Medicine, was compiled from data from the National Health & Nutrition Examination Surveys in the US, and was discussed in FoodNavigator back in March."

Salt -> High Blood Pressure -> Heart Problems

Tough chain. Does not necessarily mean that...

Salt -> Heart Problems

Just a stubborn thought! :)
I worked at Bloomberg's NYC offices for a while. They serve (at no cost) what is probably the strongest office coffee I have ever had. When commuting, I'm a certified caffiend (Grade II) and I routinely cut it 1:1 with decaf. It was still very strong, and probably a good investment for Bloomberg.

And it was very smooth coffee, none of the sourness or ripsaw edge that ruins the clean bitterness of really good coffee.
I'd be willing to bet that Bloomberg used Bunn machines. Nothing beats a Bunn for making smooth coffee.

Oops, I mean, err... gee they must've used expensive coffee if it was so good!

I am not a cult member...I am NOT a cult member...
Hmmm. An alarming pattern is emerging here among frequent commenters. When (we are naming no names) you have a strong preference for coffee machine TYPE you are in danger of being labeled a caffiend. Do they make carrying cases for Bunn machines for caffiends on the go? Just wondering.... I know, I know, you can stop any time.

Mark, the the great salt controversy you provided may well be subject to a sort such as I am speculating for this study.

One of the first things doctors tell you with heart/vessel disease and/or hypertension is to watch your salt consumption. So therefore it is likely that the population of people who were eating low salt diets (which takes considerable effort in our societies) was pre-selected for heart disease and/or hypertension, both of which conditions carry an enhanced mortality risk. The Chief's blood pressure is very affected by salt, for example.

On the other hand, why anyone with low blood pressure would need to eschew salt is beyond me. Also I was interested to note the Finn's comments about minerals. IMO eating root vegetables, fresh if possible, is an important part of a healthy diet, and they do tend to be high in minerals.
Bloomberg Coffee Addict:
It is clear that you are the real thing, because nothing spoils a good cup of coffee like sugar. That bitterness IS the thing, the summit of caffeinated perfection. If it's good, it's so very, very good that no one should want to mask it.

I was just reading BLS' latest benefits survey, and I was appalled to find that they had no stats whatsoever about the most important benefit of all - company coffee. Further employer education on this very important issue (and possibly Congressional tax breaks) are warranted to stimulate employee morale, productivity and the economy.

Given the average attention and analytic skills of most MBAs I have encountered, it should not be difficult to convince a few business schools to generate studies on the importance of company coffee (GOOD coffee) in stimulating the economy, not to mention reducing our health costs.

"On the other hand..."

That's one reason why I really like your blog by the way.

"Healthy" debate always requires two hands.

Take global warming. If you even attempt to debate it open and honestly then the one "all-knowing" (said for sarcastic emphasis) hand seems to come out of nowhere in an attempt to slap you, lol.
"I stand by my contention that coffee is a precious, life-giving fluid, but one has to suspect that it isn't for everybody all the time."

Everyone likes to believe that the U.S. Navy has superior ships, guns, and airplanes. Ah, they're certainly OK, but the Navy's secret weapon has always been...........COFFEE!

That's right, the world's sea lanes remain open for free trade because of that life-giving elixir.

As my Leading Chief always said, "We might be short of beans or powdered eggs, but Cookie's always got plenty of coffee aboard." Ha, and it didn't and probably still doesn't taste like that refined stuff the barristas serve up today. Battery acid would be a good description. Those who didn't like it were gone after one enlistment.

Here's to that life-giving, freedom-preserving drink we all enjoy.
Blogs are so informative where we get lots of information on any topic. Nice job keep it up!!

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