There’s more good news for coffee lovers in the health department. A new study says moderate coffee consumption—regular or decaf--can lower your risk of dying by as much as 16%. But before you reach for another cup of joe, know that these results are limited by factors such as age, health and lifestyle. Also, coffee didn’t reduce the risk of death from one big health concern.
This study followed 400,000 men and women age 50 – 71 enrolled in the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study between 1995 and 1996. Each participant provided details about their coffee consumption, ranging from zero to a maximum category of six cups a day or more.
None of the participants had a history of cancer, stroke or heart disease when the study started. Then the health of each was tracked through 2008 or until death.
At first, the results indicated that coffee might increase the risk of death. Among those that didn’t drink coffee 13% of men and 10% percent of women died between 1995 and 2008, compared to 19% of men and 15% of women who drank six or more cups a day.
But when the researchers excluded coffee drinkers that also smoked, abused alcohol and ate lots of red meat, they found a completely different picture. Now men who drank two to more than six cups of coffee a day were about 10% less likely to die during the study than non-drinkers. For women, there was up to a 16% reduced risk of death in coffee drinkers compared to non-drinkers.
The protective effect appeared greater among those who drank more than one cup a day, but little difference was seen between two cups a day and six cups a day.
What a Way to Go
The results showed a lower overall risk of dying for specific health concerns: cardiovascular disease, respiratory illness, stroke, diabetes, infections, and injuries and accidents.
Coffee drinking was not linked to a reduction in cancer fatalities among women, and had only a marginal protective impact on cancer deaths among men.
Not for Everyone
Study authors recommend talking to your doctor before upping coffee consumption because your personal health history might affect the advice you receive.
Also, pediatricians generally advise against caffeinated coffee for children and recommend limiting coffee in adolescents. Like many stimulants, coffee can disrupt sleep patterns and become addictive.
This new study seems to confirm what previous research has suggested: that coffee drinking in moderation is not bad for healthy adults.
But how coffee delivered the apparent benefits in this study remains a mystery. Besides caffeine, coffee contains antioxidants, phytochemicals and thousands of compounds that may hold the answer to that million dollar question.