June 16, 2008 -- Coffee drinkers, rejoice. While you might be using it for a
"pick-me-up," coffee may also be extending your life.
Whether you are on a first-name basis with your barista or simply refueling
from the office coffee pot during the day, new research suggests that drinking
coffee, even in large amounts, might help you live longer.
Coffee drinkers in the study had slightly lower death rates than non-coffee
drinkers over time, whether their drink of choice had caffeine or not.
The findings do not prove that coffee is protective, but they strongly
suggest that drinking coffee in large amounts is not harmful if you are
healthy, researcher Esther Lopez-Garcia, PhD, of the University of Madrid,
Among women, drinking two to three cups of coffee a day was associated with
an 18% reduction in death from all causes, while drinking four to five cups was
associated with a 26% reduction in risk.
The risk reduction in men was smaller and could have been due to chance.
"We can't say from this one study that coffee extends your life, but it does
appear that it doesn't increase the risk for death for people who are healthy,"
Coffee, Caffeine, and Health
The evidence pointing to health benefits for coffee continue to grow, with
studies linking regular consumption to a decreased risk for cardiovascular
disease, diabetes, and even health conditions like Parkinson's disease and colon
But some studies also suggest that drinking caffeinated coffee is associated
with an increased risk for heart
attack and stroke
in people who already have heart
The American Heart Association concludes that the research linking caffeine
to health risks is conflicting. The group concludes that moderate coffee
consumption, defined as one or two cups a day, "doesn't seem to be
The few previous studies that have examined the impact of regular coffee
drinking on mortality have also been conflicting, Lopez-Garcia says.
In an effort to clarify the issue, Lopez-Garcia and colleagues from the
University of Madrid and Harvard University analyzed data from 84,214 women who
participated in Harvard's Nurse's Health Study and 41,736 men who participated
in the companion study involving male health professionals.
None of the participants had cancer or heart disease at
enrollment, and all completed dietary and health questionnaires every two to
four years that included questions about coffee consumption, other dietary
habits, and smoking status.
During 18 years of follow-up in the men and 24 years of follow-up in the
women, roughly 4,500 deaths due to heart disease and 7,500 cancer deaths
occurred. An additional 6,000 deaths were due to other causes.
After controlling for other risk factors such as weight, diet,
smoking status, and disease status, the researchers concluded that people who
drank coffee were less likely to die than those who didn't during the
follow-up, and that the risk reduction was attributable to a lower risk for
death from heart disease.
No association was seen between coffee drinking and cancer deaths.
The researchers conclude that the finding of a "modest" all-cause and heart
disease death benefit for coffee consumption deserves further study.
The research appears in the June 17 issue of the journal Annals of