Harvard Women's Health Watch

More on coffee: Cola, not coffee, raises blood pressure

More on coffee

Cola, not coffee, raises blood pressure

"I love coffee; I love tea; I love the java jive, and it loves me. ..." Most "caf-fiends" can identify with the lighthearted "Java Jive." But many people have serious concerns about caffeinated coffee. One worry is high blood pressure. We know that a cup of coffee can temporarily boost blood pressure, but does a regular coffee habit cause a chronic condition?

Caffeinated coffee actually confers some benefits, lowering the risk for diabetes, colon cancer, gallstones, and Parkinson's disease, and improving cognitive function and physical endurance. A November 2005 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) continues the good news — concluding that there's no link between coffee and hypertension. But the news isn't all good. Cola drinkers, listen up.

The JAMA study — by researchers at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health — drew on data from the Nurses' Health Study, which has tracked the health and habits of more than 200,000 registered nurses since 1976. The researchers used food frequency questionnaires and medical reports to analyze the relationship between caffeine intake and the development of hypertension over a 12-year period. They found no link between coffee drinking (caffeinated or decaffeinated) and hypertension in women who didn't have the condition at the start of the study. For tea drinkers, there was a slightly increased risk only among younger participants (age 26–46 at the start of the study). The truly surprising results were for cola drinkers.

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