Health & Wellbeing

Study: Upping coffee consumption could help you live longer

A new study suggests that higher coffee consumption could reduce the risk of death from all causes
A new study suggests that higher coffee consumption could reduce the risk of death from all causes
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A new study suggests that higher coffee consumption could reduce the risk of death from all causes
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A new study suggests that higher coffee consumption could reduce the risk of death from all causes

As one of the world's most popular beverages, it is clear that us humans do love a good cup of coffee. And a new study drawing on data from over half a million Europeans suggests that this penchant for a little pick-me-up could have a range of health benefits, by revealing an association between higher coffee consumption and a reduced risk of death from all causes.

The research was carried out by scientists from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and Imperial College London, who analyzed cancer and nutrition data from more than 500,000 Europeans over the age of 35. These subjects hailed from 10 different European countries, each with their distinctive styles of coffee consumption, such as the espresso sippers of Italy and the cappuccino-lovers of the UK.

This in itself revealed a few interesting insights. The people of Denmark, it was found, boast the highest level of coffee consumption by volume, at 900 mL (30 oz) per person per day, while the Italians consumed the least at around 92 mL (3.04 oz). The more coffee people drank, the more likely they were to be smokers, drinkers, meat-eaters, younger and not huge fans of fruit and vegetables.

Following up with the same participants 16 years later, the study found that 42,000 deaths had occurred from causes including cancer, circulatory diseases, heart failure and stroke. Adjusting for factors such as diet and smoking, the team says that subjects in the highest quartile of coffee consumption had significantly lower mortality rates than those that didn't drink coffee.

"We found that higher coffee consumption was associated with a lower risk of death from any cause, and specifically for circulatory diseases, and digestive diseases," said lead author Dr. Marc Gunter of the IARC. "Importantly, these results were similar across all of the 10 European countries, with variable coffee drinking habits and customs. Our study also offers important insights into the possible mechanisms for the beneficial health effects of coffee."

Among these insights was evidence that coffee drinkers may have healthier livers and better glucose control, something the researchers uncovered by analyzing metabolic biomarkers in a subset of 14,000 people. While coffee is know to contain compounds that interact with the body such as caffeine, diterpenes and antioxidants, the researchers say further research is needed pin down which ones in particular offer these apparent health benefits, along with how much would actually be a healthy amount to consume.

"Due to the limitations of observational research, we are not at the stage of recommending people to drink more or less coffee," says Gunter. "That said, our results suggest that moderate coffee drinking – up to around three cups per day – is not detrimental to your health, and that incorporating coffee into your diet could have health benefits."

The research was published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

Source: Imperial College London

7 comments
aksdad
How do you reconcile "upping coffee consumption could help you live longer" with the studies that show the groups that live the longest in the U.S.—Seventh-Day Adventists and Mormons—don't drink coffee? That's the beauty of epidemiological studies; you can make them say what you want. My guess is that there is a lot of wiggle room in their method of "adjusting for factors such as diet and smoking" since it was noted that people who consume coffee are more likely to smoke, drink and eschew vegetables, all of which have been conclusively proven to be detrimental to health and longevity.
michaelblock
How can you reduce risk of death from all causes? Does this make you immortal?
KaiserPingo
Thousand of factors attribute to living longer (better ?). Coffee is one of them. Removing coffee, if you then live longer will have other reasons behind it. That could be not inhaling exhaust gasses on a daily basis, eating helthier, being more physically active, the character of your profession ..., and genetically dispossision for living longer.
Nik
A simple rule of thumb: moderation, in all things, especially worrying about how long you will live. Stress is deadly.
Brooke
While looking at the same group of people at two points in time is better than a single point in time, it's not enough to show causation, it only shows correlation. Since correlation is NOT causation the study can not claim causation, hence the disclaimer. http://www.prc68.com/I/DietNutrition.html#Correlation_vs._Causation Have Fun, Brooke
Don Duncan
If there is a health benefit, it is sans-caffeine. I used to drink expresso but had to give it up do to heart problems from the caffeine. I don't seem to suffer when my caffeine comes from green tea or raw, organic cacao. I plan on going back to decaf, very light roast, cold brew. I will add cacao on a trial taste basis.
TJG
Correlation vs causality: Epidemiology joke: Studies show that most people in Florida are born Hispanic and die Jewish... It would be interesting to know what the unadjusted mortality data looked like. How did the negative lifestyle choices of coffee drinkers impact their lifespan. Two data point vs many: If what one is investigating is a cumulative effect, then what happened in between may not be informative. Also cohort studies do not inform individual benefits. It doesn't say that all of the high coffee consumers lived longer. Let's say that some of the people who DID die earlier were heavy coffee drinkers and had an increased risk BECAUSE of their coffee consumption. For this study what is important is that few enough of them died that it did not effect the long term trend of the entire group. Understanding why THOSE individuals may have died is a different study. Immortality: Reducing the risk from all causes of death only makes one immortal if the risk is reduced to zero. I think no conclusions can be drawn from this study, but rather it should be used to direct future studies. For example, how is life expectancy of coffee drinker in groups of people who have substantially similar lifestyles effected? Is there a difference on the impact of coffee consumption in people who have healthy vs unhealthy lifestyles? What if we look at CAFFEINE consumption? Is it caffeine or something else in coffee that is beneficial?
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