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Coffee Reduces Stroke Risk in Women

Women, Coffee and Stroke

Two new studies show that women who drink coffee daily can lower their risk for stroke.

These studies are important because they illustrate the importance of diet, particularly the effects of plant-based antioxidant-rich bioflavonoid chemicals, on human health. Caffeine in coffee has many health benefits when used in moderation, including its ability to dilate blood vessels and reduce blood pressure.

In an article published in the February 16 issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, Spanish researchers, in collaboration with a team from Harvard University, described a 24-year long study of coffee drinking. In the study, researchers evaluated more than 200 women between the ages of 50 and 73 who weren't at risk for heart disease or stroke prior to the study. Most of the study subjects were white, well educated, and from higher socioeconomic groups.

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The researchers found that the risk of stroke fell by 20 percent in women drinking four or more cups of coffee daily. The risk was 19 percent less in women drinking two to three cups of coffee daily, and 12 percent less in women who typically drank coffee five to seven times weekly. In addition, the researchers were able to compare the effects of coffee drinking between women who were non-smokers and women who smoked. While women who didn't smoke showed an overall 43 percent reduction in stroke risk, women who smoked only showed a 3 percent reduction.

The study's authors reported that women who do not smoke have a 43 percent reduction in stroke risk. Smokers have just a 3 percent reduction. In a news release the study's lead author, Esther Lopez-Garcia, explains that the "The potential benefits of coffee cannot counterbalance the detrimental effects smoking has on health."

In a related study scheduled for publication in the March 3 issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School examined the records of women who participated in the Nurses' Health Study conducted between 1980 and 2004. At the onset of the study none of the women had any history of stroke or heart problems.

Women in the Nurses' Health Study provided detailed information on their diets. Records showed that 84 percent of the women drank caffeinated coffee, 54 percent of the women drank soda with caffeine, and 78 percent drank tea. The researchers found that the women who drank two to three cups of coffee daily had a 19 percent lower risk of stroke compared to women who abstained from coffee. In addition, the risk for stroke was even lower in women who drank up to four cups of coffee daily.