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Study Supports A Healthy Daily Grind

Posted on March 17, 2011

New research published in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association in March 2010 shows that women who drink coffee each day have a significantly lower risk of stroke.  The research, performed in Stockholm, Sweden enrolled more than 34,000 women ages 49 to 83 in 1997 and followed them for 10 years.  The Swedish researchers found that women who consume more than 1 cup of coffee each day have a 22-25% less risk of stroke than women who don’t.   Dr. Demetrius Lopes, stroke specialist and endovascular neurosurgeon at Rush University Medical Center finds this research interesting.  “I think this research and other similar studies show us coffee consumption is probably not harmful.  I don’t think we can yet recommend that someone who doesn’t drink coffee should start” comments Dr. Lopes.

This research comes on the heels of other U.S.-based studies which have shown coffee drinkers have a reduced risk of diabetes, gallstones, colon cancer, liver disease, and Parkinson’s disease.

Researchers do caution that there still is insufficient evidence to recommend a certain level of consumption.  In the Swedish study, the stroke risk reduction was similar whether women drank one cup or four to five cups. 

Dr. Lopes further explains that these studies also have not demonstrated why coffee might have these protective powers against stroke.  Some scientists postulate that it may relate to coffee’s strong anti-oxidant powers or anti-inflammatory chemicals.  “We do believe that the body’s inflammatory response is a significant contributor to the incidence of stroke.  If the nutritional benefits of coffee can combat this natural response it could explain the study’s findings.”

Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury and infection.  Various studies also suggest it is involved with atherosclerosis, the fatty build-up in the inner linings of the arteries.  Atherosclerosis is caused by injurious activity in the body, including high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and smoking.  Over time atherosclerosis can become so severe that it limits blood flow to the body’s extremities, heart or brain.  It also can weaken arterial walls, making them more susceptible to rupture.  Blood vessels that become blocked or that rupture cause stroke.

Even with today’s advancements in the treatment of stroke, spearheaded by leading stroke specialists like Dr. Lopes, prevention is still the best medicine.  Dr. Lopes urges everyone to diligently pursue a healthy lifestyle  By controlling blood pressure, sugar levels and cholesterol in the body, and by quitting the smoking habit, more patients would be spared the devastating effects of stroke.

If you have any questions for Dr. Lopes about stroke or the prevention of stroke, email him at info@ChicagoStrokeMD.com or reply to this blog in the space provided below.