Are you drinking too much coffee?

Photo (c) RyanJLane - Getty Images

Researchers explore how much of the coveted morning beverage is too much

For many consumers, there’s no such thing as “too much” coffee. However, according to researchers, there just might be.

Based on a new study, consumers who drink six or more coffees per day could be negatively affecting their health.

“Coffee is the most commonly consumed stimulant in the world -- it wakes us up, boosts our energy, and helps us focus -- but people are always asking ‘How much caffeine is too much?’” said researcher Elina Hyppönen.

“Most people would agree that if you drink a lot of coffee, you might feel jittery, irritable, or perhaps even nauseous -- that’s because caffeine helps your body work faster and harder, but it also likely [suggests] that you might have reached your limit for the time being,” Hyppönen added.

Potential health risks

Hyppönen and her team based their study off of previous research that has shown how excessive caffeine consumption can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. According to Hyppönen, the “risk of cardiovascular disease increases with high blood pressure, a known consequence of caffeine consumption.”

The researchers utilized data from the U.K. Biobank to see if genes -- specifically the CYP1A2 gene, which is responsible for processing caffeine -- had any affect on not only how the body was able to handle caffeine. The team also analyzed how the beverage may increase consumers’ likelihood of developing a heart condition.

Using nearly 350,000 participants between the ages of 37 and 73, the researchers were able to monitor participants’ long-term coffee intake and any major changes in health.

Those with the CYP1A2 gene are believed to process caffeine up to four times faster -- but according to the study, having the gene didn’t play a role in the participants’ likelihood of developing a cardiovascular disease.

Those who drink one to two cups of coffee per day weren’t at an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, whereas those who drank more than six cups per day, drank decaf coffee, or didn’t drink coffee at all were at a greater risk of heart disease.

“In order to maintain a healthy heart and blood pressure, people must limit their coffees to fewer than six cups a day -- based on our data six was the tipping point where caffeine started to negatively affect cardiovascular risk,” Hyppönen said.

Hyppönen’s advice for consumers who enjoy coffee in excess may seem standard, but it can ultimately be beneficial for consumers’ health.

“Knowing the limits of what’s good for you and what’s not is imperative,” she said. “As with many things, it’s all about moderation; overindulge and your health will pay for it.”

The key to long life?

As Hyppönen warns, drinking too much coffee could negatively impact consumers’ health. However, several studies in recent years have explored how that extra jolt of caffeine can lead to several positive health benefits.

Drinking coffee in moderation has been linked to longer life, a reduced risk of premature death, a reduced risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, and improved heart health.  

Find a Medical Alert System partner near you.