Drinking coffee could help you live longer, say scientists

Loftfield et al confirmed previous studies showing an inverse association between coffee drinking and mortality and found similar associations in participants with genetic variants conveying both faster and slower caffeine metabolism. Image credit Stock

Go ahead and have that cup of coffee - maybe even several more. But she says the results reinforce previous research and add additional reassurance for coffee drinkers.

Now, we have grounds for a firm belief that coffee is not only good for you.

Interestingly, it showed that even drinking just one cup a day was linked to a lower risk of early death, and even more interestingly, it didn't matter whether the coffee was caffeinated or not.

Overall, coffee drinkers were about 10 to 15 per cent less likely to die than abstainers during a decade of follow-up. However, pregnant women are at greater risk of losing their baby if they drink too much coffee, and caffeine also slightly raises the risk of bone fractures among women. Yet the United States findings suggest the health benefits extend to the decaffeinated variety, without the pitfalls of caffeine.

But previous studies conducted in the US, Europe and Asia have found a consistent link between coffee drinking and reduced deaths from all causes including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Parkinson's disease and liver, bowel and womb cancer.

The study was published on Monday in the journal Jama Internal Medicine. Erikka Loftfield, a researcher at the U.S. National Cancer Institute and the study's lead author, pointed out that coffee has more than 1,000 different chemical compounds such as antioxidants that help protect cells from damage.

"Coffee makes you happy, it gives you something to look forward to in the morning", he said.

'Coffee drinking was inversely associated with mortality, including among those drinking eight or more cups per day, ' said Dr Loftfield. "Otherwise I get a little hyper".

Participants who had one cup of coffee a day had an 8% lower risk of premature death, which increased to 16% for those who drank six or seven cups a day.

Researchers had study subjects complete questionnaires on their daily coffee consumption, physical exercise and other personal habits, and they took physical exams including blood tests.

And the longevity advantage applied to all coffee drinkers, including those who are genetically predisposed to metabolizing caffeine more slowly. In much of the research, benefits have been identified in drinkers of decaf and regular coffee, which suggests that the advantageous ingredient isn't the caffeine.

Coffee has always been linked with combating heart disease, cancer, dementia, diabetes and depression.

However, as the study only looked at existing data, researchers can't tell what it is in coffee that's keeping us alive.

A 10-year study of 86,000 female nurses showed a reduced risk of suicide in coffee drinkers. But according to this study, there were no extra risks involved with having that particular genetic variant.

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