News

Fact/Fiction: Is drinking 25 cups of coffee a day OK for your heart?

Old news, truthfully retold. This week we assess if that caffeine fix that gets you through your day at the office really is as safe as researchers have claimed

Fact Fiction coffee heart 1362

How it was told

“I can’t start the day without a cup of coffee”, “I need my caffeine fix” and “even bad coffee is better than no coffee at all”. Love them or loathe them, coffee and tea are powering offices, lunches and morning pick-me-ups across the country.

But next to nobody would stand up and say that downing cup after cup of coffee would be a good thing. Until last week.

Reports debunked the idea that coffee is bad for your heart, trashing claims that it stiffens arteries and insisting that one cup per day has the same effect as 25.

The story was covered widely in the press both in the UK and across the globe.

Take, for instance, The Guardian’s “Up to 25 cups of coffee a day safe for heart health, study finds” with similar stories in The Daily Telegraph, Metro, The Independent, The Sun and Mail Online.

The Times opted for the reassuring “Perk up, that 25th cup of coffee won’t harm your heart” while Express Online went for the SEO-heavy “Heart attack: Want to prevent the deadly condition? How much coffee you can drink a day”.

As mentioned, the story was also covered abroad, including on CNN. They went for: “Up to 25 cups of coffee a day still safe for heart health, study says”.

But are the stories true? Is it really safe to drink that much coffee every day?

Facts. Checked

It might sound far-fetched but yes, it’s true.

All the stories came from a study carried out by London’s Queen Mary University (QMU) and the British Heart Foundation.

Researchers tested 8,412 people split up into three groups: those who drink less than one cup per day, between one and three cups per day and those who down more than three cups a day.

Anybody who drank more than 25 cups per day was excluded from the study – but academics did discover that there was no arterial stiffening for people who drank up to the high limit when compared to those drinking one cup per day.

In previous studies, coffee had been associated with arterial stiffness that increases the chances of stroke or heart attack.

However, before you flick on the coffee machine, academics were clear that this isn’t just carte blanche to drink coffee to your heart’s content.

CNN were the only news outlet to speak to Dr Kenneth Fung, who led the research for QMU. He said: “We’re not telling people to drink 25 cups a day per se. If anything, if you drink within recommended guidelines then we don’t expect to see an increase in arterial stiffness compared with those who drink one cup or less a day.”

While drinking that much coffee may be OK for the heart, that’s not to say that there won’t be other effects.

London Evening Standard’s Susannah Butler tried out 25 cups on June 3 – the day that the stories went viral – and reported varying energy levels and a bad case of coffee breath.

With 95 milligrams of caffeine in each 8oz cup of brewed coffee, you would be consuming 2,375mg by drinking 25 cups, much higher than the 400mg per day (300mg per day for pregnant women) recommended by Health Canada in 2003.

The NHS doesn’t have its own guidelines but it does warn that caffeinated drinks can make the body pass urine more quickly and advises cutting down on caffeine to beat insomnia. 

So it’s probably best not to guzzle down 25 cups per day, but at least be safe in the knowledge that your heart will probably be OK.

Image: Miles Cole

Support your local Big Issue vendor

If you can’t get to your local vendor every week, subscribing directly to them online is the best way to support your vendor. Your chosen vendor will receive 50% of the profit from each copy and the rest is invested back into our work to create opportunities for people affected by poverty.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
France is booting homeless migrants out of Paris ahead of the Olympics – but some are fighting back
Paris Olympics 2024

France is booting homeless migrants out of Paris ahead of the Olympics – but some are fighting back

Hefty jail terms for Just Stop Oil activists 'set a terrible example for the rest of the world'
Traffic on the M25 during a Just Stop Oil protest
Climate activism

Hefty jail terms for Just Stop Oil activists 'set a terrible example for the rest of the world'

How can I help homeless people during a UK heatwave?
uk heatwave
Homelessness

How can I help homeless people during a UK heatwave?

DWP Jobcentre security guards 'suffer' and turn to food banks as wages fail to cover basics
dwp jobcentre security guards on the picket line
Department for Work and Pensions

DWP Jobcentre security guards 'suffer' and turn to food banks as wages fail to cover basics

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know

Support our vendors with a subscription

For each subscription to the magazine, we’ll provide a vendor with a reusable water bottle, making it easier for them to access cold water on hot days.