Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Juan Valdez, Drink Your Heart Out

There may be a little suprise for the Starbucked:
The caffeine in coffee is unhealthy for some but beneficial to others, depending on a gene that determines how fast the chemical is metabolized, a study said on Tuesday.

Since tests to determine which form of the gene one carries are not readily available and you cannot feel how fast your body is getting rid of caffeine, the study's authors recommended reining in coffee consumption to no more than four cups a day.

Slightly more than half the 4,024 study participants, who lived in coffee-rich Costa Rica between 1994 and 2004, had the slow version of the gene while the other half had the fast form. Half had had a nonfatal heart attack, and half had not.

"We found in individuals who had the slow version of this gene, as little as two cups of coffee a day is associated with an increased risk of heart disease," said study author Dr. Ahmed El-Sohemy of the University of Toronto.

For those with the slow-acting gene, two to three cups of coffee a day increased their odds of a heart attack by 36 percent, and four or more cups a day increased the risk by 64 percent, the study said.

"For those who had the fast version of the gene, there was no increased risk, even with four or more cups a day," he said. "Surprisingly, what we found was that in individuals under 50 years of age who were fast metabolizes ... consumption of as little as one to three cups a day was associated with a lower risk of heart disease."

I do say, it would also probably lower your chances of a heart attack if you drink the coffee rather than snort it, as the gentleman in the Reuters photo seems to be doing.


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