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Heart Health Center

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Drinking Coffee May Extend Life

Study Suggests but Doesn't Prove Link Between Coffee and Longer Life

Coffee, Caffeine, and Health continued...

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 Internal Medicine.

Coffee Benefits Explored

It has been suggested that coffee may protect against heart disease by reducing inflammation. Coffee has also been shown to lower blood sugar levels, which could have a beneficial effect on diabetes risk.

For many people, coffee is the main dietary source of beneficial plant compounds known as polyphenols, which are powerful antioxidants, says coffee researcher and chemistry professor Joe Vinson, PhD.

"The antioxidant properties may or may not be the mechanism at work here. We can't really say," he tells WebMD.

Vinson says the newly reported study offers the best evidence yet linking coffee with a lower risk of death.

"This was a very rigorously designed study, and the findings are very intriguing," he says.

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