The relationship between coffee consumption and serum cholesterol was examined in the comparison group of a case-control study of myocardial infarction involving 642 patients from various Italian regions who were hospitalized for diseases having no relationship to cardiovascular disease risk factors. Overall mean total cholesterol was 198.9 mg/dl. Mean cholesterol values (in mg/dl) standardized for age, sex, and smoking habits were 204.0 for nonconsumers of coffee, 194.8 for drinkers of one cup per day, 196.5 for two, 202.9 for three, 205.9 for four, and 206.5 for five or more cups per day. Thus, serum cholesterol levels were higher in non-coffee drinkers than in moderate drinkers; among coffee drinkers, however, there was a direct, although moderate, relationship between the amount of coffee consumed and the total cholesterol levels. A similar though less consistent pattern was also evident across separate strata of sex, age, and smoking habits, and the association was appreciably greater among younger subjects (below age 50). Although mean cholesterol levels in this Italian dataset were lower than those in other populations from northern Europe and the United States, the relative difference between moderate and heavy drinkers was proportionally similar to that reported in other studies. These results are of special interest since most Italian coffee (i.e., mocha or espresso) is unfiltered.
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