The fountain of youth? Drinking coffee could lead to longer life
Two new studies have linked drinking coffee with a lower risk of heart disease, stroke and liver disease and longer life expectancy, reports CNBC.
The benefits peaked at three cups per day. Coffee drinks experienced positive impacts regardless of whether they drank espresso, Americano, latte, or even decaffeinated coffee.
- The research, published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, looked at coffee drinking and mortality among 450,000 European consumers across ten countries, and 185,000 multi-ethnic consumers in the United States. During a 16-year period, it found an 18% reduction in the risk of death among Americans who drank two or three cups a day. This was the same for European men who drank three cups a day, while the risk for European women was lower by 8%.
A growing body of research has linked coffee with reduced disease risk, but its reputation as a vice has proven hard to shake. Doctors used to advise against drinking coffee, thinking it could strain the heart and stunt growth – but this was based on outdated research that often failed to control for other lifestyle factors, such as smoking, according to a Time magazine report.
These latest studies should help underline a growing list of health benefits associated with coffee drinking. The researchers stressed it was not possible to say whether there might be other factors at play, such as a social element to coffee drinking that might be beneficial to health. Although they controlled for a number of lifestyle factors, including smoking, alcohol consumption and education level, income was not taken into account. If those on higher incomes are more likely to be coffee drinkers, this could skew the results.
It also is interesting to note that the results held true regardless of caffeine content, so some other element of coffee must be responsible for any beneficial health effect. Coffee contains several bioactive compounds, including antioxidants like flavonoids and polyphenols. These levels vary depending on how it is brewed and roasted.
About three-quarters of Americans are coffee drinkers, according to the study’s authors, and about half drink coffee every day. Meanwhile, the American Heart Association has warned that cream, sugar or flavored syrups could negate some of the benefits, adding calories and saturated fat.
Although researchers urge caution in interpreting their results as a free pass to consume large amounts of coffee, manufacturers have an opportunity to highlight some of coffee’s positive health associations, at least in moderation.