Coffee addicts rejoice – even drinking 25 cups a day is not bad for your heart, say scientists.
Previous studies have suggested the drink can stiffen arteries, with caffeine lovers often advised to cut down on their consumption.
But a study of more than 8,000 people across the UK found that drinking an average of five cups a day was actually no worse for their arteries than drinking less than a cup a day.
The research, which was part-funded by the British Heart Foundation, is being presented at the British Cardiovascular Society Conference in Manchester.
Experts from Queen Mary University of London divided 8,412 participants into three groups for their study.
The first group was made up of participants who drink less than one cup of coffee a day, the second contained those who drink between one and three cups a day, and the third was made up of people who drink more than three.
Some people drank up to 25 cups a day in the latter group – but the average was five cups a day.
Researchers found even those drinking the higher daily amounts were no more likely to have stiffening of arteries than those who drank less than one cup a day. Previous studies have suggested that coffee stiffens arteries, putting pressure on the heart and increasing the likelihood of a heart attack or stroke.
All the participants had heart scans and infrared pulse wave tests, and researchers found the results held true after factors such as age, weight and smoking status were taken into account.
Dr Kenneth Fung, from Queen Mary University of London, said: ‘Despite the huge popularity of coffee worldwide, different reports could put people off enjoying it.
‘While we can’t prove a causal link in this study, our research indicates coffee isn’t as bad for the arteries as previous studies would suggest.’ He highlighted that while some participants drank huge amounts of coffee, the average among the highest consumer group was five cups a day.
He added: ‘We would like to study these people more closely in our future work so that we can help to advise safe limits.’
Professor Metin Avkiran, associate medical director at the BHF, said the study ‘rules out one of the potential detrimental effects of coffee on our arteries’.
* Another study presented at the conference found people admitted to NHS hospitals over the weekend with cardiac arrest did not face a higher risk of dying than those admitted during the week.
The study, led by experts at Aston University in Birmingham, included 4,803 people going to hospital with a cardiac arrest and assessed their five-year survival.