Now coffee drinkers can heave a sigh of relief as a new study has found that drinking more coffee per day doesn't affect the heart in any way.
According to foodconsumer.org, data on more than 120,000 participants in two U.S. studies that followed people for as long as two decades found no link between heart disease and a daily intake of six or more cups of coffee. In fact, the risk was the same as for people who had less than one cup of coffee or tea a month.
"We can't exclude the association between coffee consumption and the risk of coronary heart disease in small groups of people," said Rob van Dam, a research scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health, and a co-author of the report.
For instance, a recent study suggested that one form of a gene responsible for metabolism of caffeine could make coffee harmful to people who carry the gene, van Dam said, "although that finding requires confirmation."
And the new findings don't apply to heavy consumption of unfiltered coffee, such as the French press kind, he said. "Studies have consistently shown that drinking a lot of French press coffee increases low-density lipoprotein, the bad cholesterol," van Dam said.
"Just because there is no association between coffee and cardiovascular disease, that doesn't give free rein to order whatever you want at a coffee shop," she said. "The saturated fat in cream or whole milk and the sugar that is put in warrant consideration. Having black coffee or no-fat milk is one thing. It's another thing to drink coffee with lots of calories in it."
The researchers behind the new study had to adjust their risk estimates for other habits that often go with coffee consumption. For example, heavy coffee drinkers were more likely to drink alcohol and use aspirin, and less likely to exercise and use vitamin supplements. And there was a strong association between coffee consumption and smoking; more than half the women and 30 percent of the men drinking six or more cups a day also smoked cigarettes.