Decaffeinated coffee may raise women's risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, according to the findings of two studies presented last week at the American College of Rheumatology's annual meeting.
Researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham followed more than 31,000 women aged 55 to 69 included in the Iowa Women's Health Study from 1986 through 1997. They tracked the 158 women who developed rheumatoid arthritis during that time period and compared them with women who did not develop the disease. In rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system attacks the lining of the joints, causing pain, stiffness and inflammation.
Women drinking four or more cups a day of decaffeinated coffee were at more than twice the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. However, women drinking regular coffee were not at increased risk, while those drinking more than three cups of tea had a 60% reduced risk of developing the disease.
A similar study from the Boston University in Massachusetts reported that drinking more than one cup a day of decaffeinated coffee seemed to quadruple the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis in black women.
It is speculated that the use of industrial solvents in the decaffeination process may play a role.
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