A new study by U.S. cancer researchers found that drinking coffee — even as much as eight cups per day — does not increase the risk of death, according to MarketWatch. Instant and decaf coffee showed a lower correlation with death than ground coffee, they noted, most likely because ground coffee has higher levels of certain chemicals.
The researchers, four from the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health and one from the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University, analyzed anonymous data on more than 500,000 people from the U.K. BioBank — a public database that contains medical records, test results and DNA samples — to draw their conclusions.
"These findings suggest the importance of noncaffeine constituents in the coffee-mortality association and provide further reassurance that coffee drinking can be a part of a healthy diet," the researchers concluded. Their study was published July 2 by JAMA Internal Medicine.
This study's findings echo other recent research, including two studies last year that linked drinking three cups of coffee daily with a lower risk of heart disease, liver disease and stroke and a longer life expectancy. Those benefits accrued regardless of whether people drank decaf, espresso, latte or Americano coffee.
All this comes at a time that coffee is more popular than ever. According to a survey from the National Coffee Association cited by Reuters, 64% of American adults drink a cup of coffee every day — up 2% from 2017. This is the highest level since 2012. Some of the increase may be due to convenience as drive-thru coffee shops and neighborhood outlets have emerged to cater to consumers' caffeine habits. Coffee, bottled water and tea have become more in demand as sugary sodas and juices have fallen from favor.
Statista research projects coffee sales will hit nearly $13 billion this year and increase at an compound annual growth rate of 3.1% from 2018 through 2021. The U.S. is the leading global consumer of coffee, with Americans drinking 400 million cups per day.
To get a piece of the action, big food companies have been aggressively acquiring or investing in coffee products. Nestlé bought a majority stake last year in Blue Bottle Coffee and acquired Chameleon Cold-Brew. Smucker's Folgers brand introduced a higher-end brand of 100% arabica coffee, and 7-Eleven debuted its own brand of fresh-brewed premium coffees at its nearly 11,000 outlets. And the Dr Pepper Snapple and Keurig Green Mountain merger, scheduled to close July 9, could influence what types of new coffee products come to the marketplace.
With the M&A activity and the increasing consumer interest, it's likely that additional caffeinated food and beverage items will appear to give those who try them an energy boost. Manufacturers have infused caffeine in beef jerky, jelly beans, cookies and ice cream. Mars relaunched its caffeine-enhanced Alert Gum last year, and there are now several brands of caffeinated snacks, as well as caffeinated sparkling water products, available in U.S. retail outlets.
Makers of caffeinated food and beverage products might want to cite this latest study to boost sales and justify further expansion. There could be another piece of good news for them as well. The California court ruling mandating warning labels if products contain a probable carcinogen such as acrylamide — a byproduct of the coffee roasting and brewing process — looks like it may not be implemented after all.