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Two New Studies: Caffeine Not Harmful to Heart

Two recently released medical studies show that caffeine is not harmful to the heart.

The two long-term studies of coffee drinking habits found that even people who drink caffeinated beverages by the liter, have healthy hearts. The combined surveys -- which followed more than 128,000 people for 14 to 20 years -- kept track of how much coffee participants drank, what kind of coffee it was and whether they had any heart problems.

What researchers found is that drinking caffeine -- even six cups a day -- does not cause coronary artery disease.

But that does not mean caffeine is good for you, according to Dr. Patricia Davidson of the Washington Hospital Center. "Caffeine basically is essentially not a good substance so you just don't [should not] drink a lot of it. We haven't found, we can't pinpoint, anything really bad about caffeine -- is the point and we've been trying for decades."

The new studies say that caffeine consumption does not affect the levels of either good cholesterol -- H.D.L., or bad cholesterol -- L.D.L. But the researchers point out these results does not apply to coffee made without a paper filter.

Again, Dr. Davidson. "We haven't been able to prove that coronary artery disease, which basically is the formation of cholesterol plaques within the artery wall -- what we call atherosclerosis -- we haven't been able to document that caffeine does promote clogging of the arteries or atherosclerosis."

Dr. Davidson says another recent study in Costa Rica suggests the way some people metabolize caffeine may cause them to suffer side effects.

"Young people who were slow metabolizers ended up having an increased risk of heart disease. Now that was a small study and we don't have the final word on it, and plus we're not doing genetic breakdowns on people to find out if they should or should not drink coffee."

So to be safe, Dr. Davidson says people should drink their coffee in moderation.