Four cups of coffee a day might keep the doctor away

I don’t really need an excuse to have another cup of coffee - I have a 6-month-old who isn't sleeping through the night on a regular basis. Still, research from Kaiser Permanente in California gives a reason to grab another mug. A new Kaiser study presented this week at The American Heart Association meeting in San Francisco suggests coffee drinking could help keep you out of the hospital.

Researchers in Kaiser Permanente’s Oakland research division examined the coffee drinking habits of 130,054 people to determine if there was an association with hospitalizations for heart rhythm problems. And because coffee drinkers often report heart palpitations, the researchers were surprised to find that those of us who drink four or more cups of coffee a day had an 18 percent lower risk of being hospitalized for atrial fibrillation and other heart rhythm disruptions. People who drank one to three cups of java a day reduced their risk by 7 percent.

"Coffee drinking is related to lower risk of hospitalization for rhythm problems, but the association does not prove cause and effect, or that coffee has a protective effect,” said Arthur Klatsky, the study’s senior author and a cardiology consultant for Kaiser’s research division. Still, he added, “these data might be reassuring to people who drink moderate amounts of coffee.”

Last month, Researchers from the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid in Spain and Harvard University in Boston published a study online in the journal Circulation reporting that drinking four or more cups of coffee a day reduced the risk of stroke, at least in women. Click here for more on that study.