ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
Know Your Asthma Triggers
New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
Birds Don't Miss a Beat
Wristbands May Lessen Nausea After Radiation
ANIMAL CARE
Beware of Dog Bites
Safe Toys for Dogs
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
BONES & JOINTS
Study Shows Exercise Shields Against Osteoporosis
Bone Loss Stable on Restricted Calorie Diet
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
CANCER
To Quit Smoking, Try Logging On
Green Tea May Help Prevent Oral Cancer
Poor Women Seem to Be Skipping Breast Cancer Drugs
CAREGIVING
3 Steps Might Help Stop MRSA's Spread
Mild Flu Season Coming to a Close
Hispanic Children More Likely to Have Hearing Loss
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Salt Boosts Blood Pressure in High-Risk Patients
Migraines in Pregnancy Boost Vascular Risks
Bye, Bye Back Fat?
COSMETIC
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
DENTAL, ORAL
Holistic Dentistry-My View
Most Insured Adults Worry About Health Care Costs: Poll
Sports Drinks May Be Tough on Teeth
DIABETES
Strict Blood Sugar Lowering Won't Ease Diabetes Heart Risk
Study Shows Turmeric May Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Poor Blood Sugar Control After Heart Surgery Impacts Outcomes
DIET, NUTRITION
Mediterranean Diet Plus Exercise Lowers Alzheimer's Risk
Coffee Drinking Lowers Women's Stroke Risk
Quick Weight Loss May Be Best for Long-Term Success
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Greener Neighborhoods Mean Slimmer Children
Meat-Eating Dinosaurs Used Legs and Arms Like Birds
Think You Are Lead-Free? Check Your Soil
EYE CARE, VISION
Americans Losing Sight of Eye Health
Magnetic Pulses to Brain Improve Lazy Eye in Adults
Cases of Age-Related Farsightedness to Soar
FITNESS
Have Fun This Summer, But DO Be Careful
Barefoot Best for Running?
Study Shows Exercise Shields Against Osteoporosis
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
GENERAL HEALTH
The Brain Comes Alive With the Sounds of Music
Simple Holistic Approach to Fight the Common Cold
Most Fast-Food French Fries Cooked in Unhealthiest Oil
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Ingredient in Dark Chocolate Could Guard Against Stroke
Omega-6 Fatty Acids Can Be Good for You
Lack of Vitamin D Linked to High Blood Pressure
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Viral Infection Might Trigger High Blood Pressure
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Obese Children More Likely to Suffer Lower Body Injuries
Exercise During Pregnancy Keeps Newborn Size Normal
Too Many Infants Short on Vitamin D
MEN'S HEALTH
Low Vitamin D Levels May Boost Men's Heart Attack Risk
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
MENTAL HEALTH
17 Ways to Create the Perfect Workday
Worries About Weight Are Tied to Teen Suicide Tries
Eight Spiritual Universal Principles in the Art of Practice
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
SENIORS
Exercise Benefits Even the Oldest Old
15-Point Test Gauges Alzheimer's Risk
Community Exercise Programs Boost Seniors' Strength
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Natural Relief for Painful Menstrual Cramps
Calcium Helps Ward Off Colon Cancer
For Women, Moderate Midlife Drinking Linked to Healthier Old Age
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Coffee Is Generally Heart-Friendly

Coffee drinkers can take heart from a series of studies presented this week at American Heart Association conferences in San Francisco.

For example, coffee drinkers appear to have a lower risk of hospitalization for abnormal heart rhythms. And there's no indication that having a few cups every day increases the risk of atherosclerosis, the thickening of blood vessel walls that can lead to heart attacks and other problems. What's more, something in coffee other than caffeine might be responsible for a reduced risk of diabetes for women who regularly imbibe java.

Not every report at the AHA's annual conferences on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention and Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism was totally upbeat for coffee lovers. One report did find a potential link between coffee drinking and high blood pressure, but the effect was described as "modest." And, like the other studies, it came hedged with the caveat that the finding wasn't based on a controlled trial -- the gold standard for assessing risk and benefit -- but from observational studies, which don't exclude all possible factors.

The heart rhythm research looked at the rate at which 130,054 members of the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program were hospitalized for heart rhythm disturbances. About 2 percent of them had hospital stays because of such abnormalities, the most common being atrial fibrillation. But the risk was 18 percent lower for those who reported drinking four or more cups of coffee a day, compared to those who didn't drink coffee, said Dr. Arthur Klatsky, a senior consultant in cardiology for the program, who led the study.

"It might be a surprise, because coffee does give some people the jitters," Klatsky said. "And I don't think we're ready to tell people they should drink coffee to prevent heart rhythm problems."

The study didn't offer any reason why coffee might reduce heart rhythm problems, Klatsky said. "It could be that coffee drinkers have better diets or exercise more. We can't say for sure that it might not be related to minor heart rhythm problems that don't require hospitalization."

The bottom line: "Coffee drinkers don't have to quit because they have heart rhythm problems," Klatsky said. "That's about as far as we can go."

Another study that has followed more than 3,000 men and women for 20 years found no association between coffee consumption and atherosclerosis for just about every demographic group -- men and women, blacks and whites, smokers and nonsmokers. Participants in the study included people whose coffee consumption ranged from none to more than four cups a day.

"Based on these data, there does not appear to be any substantial association between coffee drinking and increased or decreased odds of developing atherosclerosis or its progression over time," study leader Jared Reis, an epidemiologist with the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, said in a prepared statement.

The third study, based on a report from the long-running Women's Health Study, provided a possible explanation for a lower incidence of type 2 diabetes -- the kind that generally develops later in life -- among coffee drinkers. Researchers compared 359 post-menopausal women newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and 359 women without the disease. They found that women who drank four or more cups of caffeinated coffee a day had a 56 percent lower risk of developing the condition than those who did not drink coffee.

That reduced risk appears to be due to the effects of caffeine on a protein that binds to sex hormones, said Dr. Atsushi Goto, of the University of California, Los Angeles, who presented the report. But the finding is preliminary and requires further study, Goto added.

The report linking consumption of one to three cups of coffee a day with a slightly increased risk of high blood pressure came from Dr. Liwei Chen, assistant professor of epidemiology at the Louisiana State University School of Public Health, using data from six studies that included more than 172,000 participants.

"Based on our results, long-term coffee drinking might be a risk factor for hypertension, but the effect is very moderate," Chen said. "We definitely need more research and evidence to clarify our findings based on the meta-analysis of published prospective studies. Meanwhile, I think it is important for people to consider lowering their coffee drinking if they are concerned about their blood pressure."

SOURCES: Arthur Klatsky, M.D., senior consultant in cardiology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, Oakland, Calif.; Liwei Chen, M.D., Ph.D, assistant professor, epidemiology, Louisiana State University School of Public Health, New Orleans; March 3-5, 2010, American Heart Association annual Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention, San Francisco

Last Updated: March 03, 2010