Have you seen the headlines? Yup, that’s right! That morning caffeine fix might just be the ticket to a longer life, at least according to a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine this week. Mind you, whether or not daily consumption of coffee directly causes a longer life or simply associated with it has yet to be determined. But this is truly the type of news that all of us can use, right?!
In this study, researchers from the National Cancer Institute examined data compiled from over 220,00 men and 173,000 women who participated in a larger diet and health study. They analyzed intake of a broad variety of foods ranging from fruits and vegetables to meat and other source of saturated fat, and coffee consumption was assessed terms of frequency, i.e. 0 to 6 or more cups daily.
Although coffee is rich in antioxidants, its consumption has been linked with increases in cholesterol and blood pressure levels. And, in this particular pool of individuals, coffee drinkers were likelier than nondrinkers to smoke cigarettes, have more than three drinks (alcoholic) a day and eat more red meat.
And yet, after adjusting for all of these confounders — in particular smoking — researchers found that drinking coffee actually appeared to prolong life. In fact, men who drank 6 or more cups a day had a 10% lower risk of dying and women who drank this much had a 15% lower risk of dying compared to non-coffee drinkers. Even better? It didn’t appear to matter whether or not the coffee was caffeinated or decaffeinated.
The researchers say that their findings add evidence to other data that show inverse associations between coffee drinking and risk of diabetes, stroke and death from inflammatory diseases. Importantly, they caution that even though smokers appeared to gain the same benefits as nonsmokers, lowered risk from dying appeared to be the strongest amongst participants who never smoked or had stopped smoking.
So, should you start drinking more coffee than ever? Well, this study is an observational study and one that relied on self-reports. Therefore cause and effect is inconclusive. However, in this extremely large pool of men and women, drinking coffee more frequently appeared to confer a moderate degree of protection from dying of heart and respiratory disease, stroke, injuries, accidents and infections. Of course, more coffee may mean less sleep and more jitters, depending on your constitution and the degree of caffeine. Regardless, it appears that more is less when it comes to dying.
Got life? Have another cup!