A new study appearing in the March 3 issue of Circulation found that drinking coffee might reduce women's risk of stroke -- and that drinking a lot of coffee might reduce it even more. Researchers analyzed data on over 83,000 women who participated in Harvard's Nurses Health Study between 1980 and 2004 and "found that healthy women who consumed two to three cups of caffeinated coffee a day had, on average, a 19 percent lower risk for any kind of stroke than did women who drank less than one cup a month. Drinking four or more cups a day lowered risk by 20 percent." Ha! In your face, moderation-practicers! (Ahem. Forgive me, I'm a little over-caffeinated.)
Unsurprisingly, smoking cancels out most of this benefit, and the highest degree of stroke protection was seen in non-smokers. The researchers also warn that coffee drinking can still have adverse effects on insomnia, anxiety and cardiac problems -- and of course, the usual warnings about the need for further research apply. Nevertheless, study co-author Rob M. van Dam of Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health says, "we feel comfortable that we definitely found no association between high coffee consumption and a higher stroke risk. So women can continue to enjoy their coffee and focus on other things to reduce stroke risk, such as engaging in more physical activity, reducing salt intake and stopping smoking." Hey, I'll take that -- along with another cup of joe, thanks.