People who drink four or more cups of coffee a day increase their risk of a heart attack by 40 percent and those at high risk for heart attacks should consider limiting their consumption, researchers at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Oakland, Calif., say in a new study.
But the study, which is the latest contribution to a decades-long debate over the possible link between cardiovascular disease and coffee, was immediately assailed by critics.
"This beverage is consumed by most adults in this country. And, despite studies back and forth, you can't nail coffee with anything," said Dr. Harvey Wolinsky, a cardiologist at Mount Sinai Hospital and Medical Center in New York. Wolinsky reviewed the study at the request of the National Coffee Association.
The study, published in the September issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology, also marks a reversal for this Kaiser research group. In 1973, the researchers reported that scientific findings failed to find a connection between coffee consumption and heart attack.
"If you want to get people down on you and hollering at you, write something about coffee," said Dr. Arthur Klatsky, who published the study with co-investigator Gary Freidman.
Klatsky said that he cannot explain why the new study found the increased risk for heart attack when previous studies, including his own, had not. But he said that he does not rule out the possibility that a factor other than coffee consumption might have caused the increased risk.