Coffee and a Longer Life are Linked
Coffee and a longer life are linked, a study of nearly 500,000 British adults showed, with coffee drinkers having a lower risk of death over 10 years than abstainers, even for those who down at least 8 cups daily.
The apparent longevity boost was seen with instant, ground and decaffeinated, results that echo US research. It is the 1st large study to suggest a benefit even in people with genetic glitches affecting how their bodies use caffeine.
Overall, coffee drinkers were about 10 to 15% less likely to die than abstainers during 10 years of follow-up. Differences by amount of coffee consumed and genetic variations were minimal.
The results do not prove the coffee pot is a fountain of youth nor are they a reason for abstainers to start drinking coffee, said Alice Lichtenstein, a Tufts University nutrition expert who was not involved in the research. But she said the results reinforce previous research and add additional reassurance for coffee drinkers.
“It’s hard to believe that something we enjoy so much could be good for us. Or at least not be bad,” Ms. Lichtenstein said.
The study was published Monday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.
It’s not clear exactly how drinking coffee might affect longevity.
Lead author Erikka Loftfield, a researcher at the US National Cancer Institute, said coffee contains more than 1,000 chemical compounds including antioxidants, which help protect cells from damage.
Other studies have suggested that substances in coffee may reduce inflammation and improve how the body uses insulin, which can reduce chances for developing diabetes.
Researchers said that efforts to explain the potential longevity benefit are continuing.
The researchers invited 9%British adults to take part; 498,134 women and men aged 40 to 69 agreed. The low participation rate means those involved may have been healthier than the general UK population, the researchers said.
Participants filled out questionnaires about daily coffee consumption, exercise and other habits, and received physical exams including blood tests. Most were coffee drinkers; 154,000 or almost 33% drank 2-3 cups daily and 10,000 drank at least 8 cups daily.
During the next decade, 14,225 participants died, mostly of cancer or heart disease.
Caffeine can cause short-term increases in blood pressure, and some smaller studies have suggested that it might be linked with high blood pressure, especially in people with a genetic variation that causes them to metabolize caffeine slowly.
But coffee drinkers in the US study didn’t have higher risks than nondrinkers of dying from heart disease and other blood pressure-related causes. And when all causes of death were combined, even slow caffeine metabolizers had a longevity boost.
As in previous studies, coffee drinkers were more likely than abstainers to drink alcohol and smoke, but the researchers took those factors into account, and coffee drinking seemed to cancel them out.
The research didn’t include whether participants drank coffee black or with cream and sugar. But Ms. Lichtenstein said loading coffee with extra fat and calories isn’t healthy.
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