Caffeine and cholesterol: interactions with hostility.

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The consumption of caffeinated beverages has been linked to elevated serum cholesterol and an increased risk of coronary disease, although the relationships are inconsistent across studies and remain controversial. The effect of caffeine on cholesterol and coronary disease risk may be modulated by other factors. Using cohort data from a subsample of the University of North Carolina Alumni Heart Study, we investigated whether the relationships between caffeinated beverage consumption and serum lipid and lipoprotein levels in middle-aged men and women were modulated by levels of trait hostility. After adjustment for other risk factors, higher caffeinated beverage intake was associated with higher low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels and a higher ratio of total to high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, both indicative of greater coronary disease risk. The interactive effects of hostility and caffeine intake were ambiguous, although there were trends for caffeine intake to have stronger effects on low-density lipoprotein and on total cholesterol in people with less hostility. Additional studies of personality characteristics and other factors that can modulate the cholesterol-raising effects of coffee drinking may be warranted because they might clarify the health consequences associated with coffee drinking and lead to the identification of individuals who would benefit most from changes in their coffee drinking.

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