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Cardiovascular health may influence coffee consumption

the University of South Australia
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
the Australian Centre for Precision Health
Medical News Today
K Health

Elina Hyppönen
Edo Paz


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The New York Times
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As a result of the caffeine that coffee contains, excessive consumption can cause unpleasant symptoms such as tachycardia (a fast resting heart rate) and palpitations.Drinking coffee can also lead to a moderate, temporary increase in blood pressure.So it may come as a surprise that regular coffee drinkers either have normal or reduced blood pressure compared with people who do not drink coffee.One explanation may be that coffee drinkers develop a physiological tolerance for the effects of caffeine.But a new study suggests that people with a high genetic risk of cardiovascular disease unconsciously reduce how much they drink to avoid unpleasant cardiovascular symptoms.The research found that individuals with high blood pressure, angina, or arrhythmia drank less caffeinated coffee and were more likely to drink decaffeinated coffee.Crucially, there was strong evidence that their genetic vulnerability to cardiovascular disease led to their reduced consumption of coffee. Researchers also measured their blood pressure and heart rate and noted any cardiovascular symptoms.Participants with high blood pressure, angina, or arrhythmia consumed less caffeinated coffee compared with those without these symptoms.To determine whether regular coffee consumption caused the symptoms, or whether the symptoms triggered a reduction in coffee consumption, the researchers used a statistical technique called Mendelian randomization.This technique exploits the random inheritance of genetic variants that increase a person’s risk of a particular outcome later in life — in this case, the association between blood pressure and heart rate with habitual coffee consumption.Because factors, such as lifestyle or diet, cannot change a person’s genetic sequence, any associations that the researchers discovered must be due to the gene variants rather than any other factors.When they analyzed the data, it showed that having a particular genetic variant determined how much coffee a person drank.“What this means is that someone who drinks a lot of coffee is likely more genetically tolerant of caffeine, as compared to someone who drinks very little,” says Prof.

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