Drinking coffee linked to lower stroke risk in women, study says. But what does that link mean?

Coffee, the new health drink? Ah, not just yet. But a new study might make some coffee fiends feel better about their habit. Researchers found that women who drank more than one cup of coffee a day had a lower risk -- up to 25% lower -- than did women who drank little or no coffee.

The study published online Thursday in the American Heart Assn. journal Stroke involved 34,670 Swedish women with no history of cardiovascular disease or cancer. The women filled out surveys about how much coffee they drank in 1997.

“During a mean follow-up of 10.4 years, we ascertained 1,680 stroke events, including 1,310 cerebral infarctions, 154 intracerebral hemorrhages, 79 subarachnoid hemorrhages and 137 unspecified strokes. After adjustment for other risk factors, coffee consumption was associated with a statistically significant lower risk of total stroke, cerebral infarction, and subarachnoid hemorrhage but not intracerebral hemorrhage,” the study abstract says.


Clear, right? No worries. Here’s what you need to know. The researchers found an “association” -- a link. That’s not the same thing as finding that drinking coffee prevents stroke. Rather, the research points to a need for more research into exactly what’s going on here.

And besides, individual stroke risk varies. If you’re hoping that morning java infusion means you don’t have to take your blood pressure medication, think again.

So don’t change your coffee-drinking habits yet -- unless you like coffee too much and are worried it might not be a good idea. More research is needed to shed light on the association between coffee and stroke risk.