Coffee does a lot more than make human interaction possible before 10 am. Scientists have found more compelling evidence that this ancient drink might hold some far-reaching health benefits.
A new study by French scientists has shown how guzzling three or more cups of coffee every day halved the risk of death among patients with HIV and hepatitis C virus (HCV). Their research was recently published in the Journal of Hepatology.
It’s all to do with the anti-inflammatory and liver-friendly properties of coffee. In the wider population, three mugs of coffee each morning has been shown to cut the risk of liver cancer by 35 percent. In fact, drinking five mugs decreased the risk even further, but all that caffeine could lead to other health problems in itself. Two other large studies have also found a link between drinking more of the black stuff and living longer.
These curious properties of coffee are particularly interesting to HIV/HCV researchers since patients with these conditions are at a high risk of developing end-stage liver disease, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer.
"Even when cured of HCV, patients co-infected with HIV have a higher risk of death with respect to the general population, due to an accelerated aging process that may result from cancer, complications related to diabetes and to liver disease, and from cardiovascular events," explained lead investigator Dominique Salmon-Céron.
Their study analyzed 1,028 HIV-HCV co-infected patients over a five-year period. At the start of the study, one in four patients reported drinking at least three cups of coffee daily. By the end of the study, 77 deaths occurred. They dived into this data to find that drinking at least three cups of coffee daily was associated with a 50 percent reduction in mortality risk. That was even after taking into account health factors associated with these conditions and other sociobehavioral factors, such as not smoking and their relationship status.
Of course, none of this is to say that coffee is some type of miracle drug. Drinking too much coffee has been shown to affect sleep patterns, anxiety levels, and insomnia. Just like everything taken in excess, too much isn’t good for you.
Nevertheless, as this study shows, more and more evidence suggests that coffee could potentially be used as to prevent, or perhaps even manage, numerous health conditions.
"I think we need to better monitor coffee consumption, together with other behaviors, such as alcohol use, smoking, physical activity, and to propose interventions to our patients which facilitate healthy behaviors even after HCV clearance,” Dr Salmon-Céron added.
“Accordingly, I believe that the benefits of coffee extracts and supplementing dietary intake with other anti-inflammatory compounds need to be evaluated in HIV-HCV patients."