Another day, another study telling us how good drinking coffee is for your health. According to the results, slurping a few cups of the stuff might just help you live longer, reducing the likelihood of death from a variety of causes. And interestingly, the caffeine-content didn’t seem to make a huge difference, as similar trends were observed in decaf drinkers.
This isn’t actually the first time that a study has hinted that coffee drinkers may benefit from a few extra years of life. Just last year, for example, an analysis of 20 different studies looking into coffee consumption and “total mortality,” or death from all causes, found that those drinking the most had a 14 percent lower risk of premature death than those drinking the least.
That’s on top of all the other studies that have reported benefits, ranging from a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, Parkinson’s and heart problems. But let’s not sweep the less complimentary studies under the carpet, as some have also reported negative effects, such as an increase in “bad” cholesterol levels.
Still, it seems the overwhelming majority of studies sing the praise of this bitter brew. But it seems scientists aren’t finished with it yet, and evidently there is more data to be gathered. The motivation behind the present study was largely a lack of clarity on the relationship between coffee consumption and specific causes of mortality, alongside a desire to find out whether caffeinated and decaffeinated brews have similar associations with risks of death.
The scientists, based at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, therefore decided to scrutinize data collected from three large ongoing studies, which totaled more than 200,000 male and female participants. Coffee consumption habits were assessed by means of a food questionnaire, completed every four years over a period of around three decades. Alongside collecting data on things like age, levels of exercise, and smoking status, participants were asked how often they drank coffee, from “six or more times per day” to “never or less than once per month,” and whether the coffee was caffeinated or decaffeinated.
As reported in Circulation, throughout the duration of the study, 19,524 women and 12,432 men died from a variety of causes. Using this data, the scientists worked out that “moderate” coffee consumption – about three to five cups a day – was linked with a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, diabetes, neurological diseases like Parkinson’s, and suicide, but not cancer. Similar patterns were also observed in those that drank decaf, suggesting that the reduced risks were not due to the biological effects of caffeine.
While this study has merits due to the large sample size and long follow-up period, as always studies like this can’t prove it was the coffee or another confounding factor that caused the reduced risk of death. Furthermore, it can’t identify what coffee component could be exerting these suggested effects, although we do know that it’s loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory molecules, both of which could help stave off a variety of diseases.