Coffee Found To Increase The Body's Inflammatory Response


Systemic inflammation plays a role in the pathophysiology of obesity, insulin resistance, ischemic heart disease, the metabolic syndrome X and abnormal coagulation process. There is also a large body of evidence that suggests that nutritional factors exert their influence largely through their effects on blood pressure, lipids, and lipoproteins, as well as on markers of inflammation and coagulation. This leads scientists to believe that dietary interventions designed to reduce the inflammatory process could potentially be beneficial in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). There is conflicting information now regarding the effects of coffee consumption on the cardiovascular system. Researchers are of the opinion that the effect of coffee consumption on various inflammatory markers has not been well investigated.

To further understand the relationship between coffee intake and the body’s inflammatory response, researchers tested the hypothesis that there is a dose-response relation between several inflammatory markers and coffee consumption, while taking into account several potential confounders. The ATTICA study data was used. This study is a health and nutrition survey that is currently being carried out in the Greek province of Attica (an area that is 78 per cent urban and 22 per cent rural).

Inclusion criteria in the study are: no clinical evidence of CVD, atherosclerotic disease, or chronic viral infections. Subjects were interviewed by trained personnel, using a standard questionnaire. Dietary assessment was based upon a food-frequency questionnaire (FFQ). Consumption of nonrefined cereals and products, vegetables, legumes, fruit, olive oil, dairy products, fish, nuts, potatoes, eggs, sweets, poultry, red meat and meat products, coffee, and alcohol were measured. Usual coffee consumption was categorised as rare (<100 m/d), moderate (200-400 mL/d), and heavy (>400 mL/d). All subjects reported types of coffee.

C-reactive protein (CRP) and serum amyloid-A (SAA) were measured along with Interleukin 6 (IL-6). Tumor necrosis factor a (TNF- a), white blood cell count (WBC), lipid levels and blood chemistries were also measured. Demographic information was collected. Finally, blood pressure was measured following a physical examine.

Compared with coffee nondrinkers, men who consumed >200 mL coffee/d had 50 per cent higher IL-6 , 30 per cent higher CRP, 12 per cent higher SAA, and 28% higher TNF- aconcentrations and 3 per cent higher WBC counts (all: P < 0.05). Women who consumed >200 mL coffee/d had 54 per cent higher IL-6, 38 per cent higher CRP, 28 per cent higher SAA, and 28 per cent higher TNF- a concentrations and 4 per cent higher WBC counts (all: P < 0.05) than did non coffee drinkers. These findings remained significant even following control for the interactions between coffee consumption and age, sex, smoking, body mass index, physical activity status and other covariates.

It appears that there is a relationship between moderate-to-high coffee consumption and increased inflammation process. This may partially explain the effect of increased coffee intake on the cardiovascular system.


A. Zampelas, D. Panagiotakos, C. Pitsavos, et al. Associations between coffee consumption and inflammatory markers in healthy persons: the ATTICA study.

Am J Clin Nutr;80:862-867 (October, 2004).


DB Panagiotakos
46 Paleaon Polemiston Street
Glyfada, Attica, 166 74, Greece

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