Drinking Three Cups of Coffee a Day Can Save Your Life
A New study finds that drinking three cups of coffee each day can significantly reduce the risk of death from several causes, including heart disease and stroke.
According to a new report from the International Agency for Research on Cancer, recently published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, people who drink coffee have a lower risk of death from nearly all causes, including heart attack, stroke, liver disease, and more.
Drinking coffee probably won’t help you with physical trauma like bullet wounds or car accidents, but then again, it does increase your alertness. So maybe it’s fair to say coffee can help in all cases.
The study found that drinking three cups of coffee a day – any form of coffee, from traditional drip coffee to cappuccino to espresso – lowers the risk of death from a host of diseases, most notably diseases related to the circulatory and digestive systems. It’s not exactly clear what specifically it is in coffee that helps, but there is a lot of evidence to support the claim.
A 16 Year Study
Often with studies like these – studies that make grand pronouncements that seem too simple and beneficial to be true – the methodology is flawed. The study group will consist of eight people in the lead researcher’s bowling league, or the data will come from a study of 50 mice. It often abuses the causation vs correlation principle and is frequently akin to someone claiming that people who breathe oxygen are far more likely to survive a car accident than those that don’t. This study is not in that group.
The findings come from the largest study of its kind, and include a sample size of 521,330 people, all over the age of 35, living in 10 European countries, and it spans nearly 16 years. The study also analyzed a subset of 14,000 people to track their biomarkers. The study focused on the diets and lifestyle habits of the half a million subjects through several questionnaires and interviews. The study included male and female participants, as well as several ethnicities.
The published paper is actually the combination of two studies, the first which began in the early 90s and followed 185,000 people, while the second began a few years later and involved 450,000 participants. Both tracked their subjects for 16 years.
Previous studies on this subject have revealed contradictory results, but the results of this study coincide with the results from similar studies conducted in the U.S. and Japan, all of which show a straight line pointing to coffee having potentially huge benefits.
“We found that higher coffee consumption was associated with a lower risk of death from any cause, and specifically for circulatory diseases, and digestive diseases,” said lead author Dr. Marc Gunter of the IARC. “Importantly, these results were similar across all of the 10 European countries, with variable coffee drinking habits and customs. Our study also offers important insights into the possible mechanisms for the beneficial health effects of coffee.”
Three Cups of Coffee is Better Than One
During the 16 year studies, nearly 42,000 people died from a variety of reasons, including cancer, heart disease, stroke, and more. Going through the data and looking for any commonalities, the researchers discovered that those with the highest consumption of coffee had a lower risk for all causes of death, compared to those that did not drink coffee. Drinking one cup a day correlated to a 12-percent lower risk, while drinking three cups a day showed an 18-percent lower risk, regardless of gender and ethnicity.
Coffee drinkers also had healthier livers (giving further evidence to a previous study that showed coffee can help even damaged livers), as well as better glucose control compared to non-coffee drinkers. The study looked at the way people consumed coffee, nd did not see much difference in method in which the coffee was prepared. So drinking a mocha is, in theory, just as effective as drinking a coffee from a french press.
“We found that drinking more coffee was associated with a more favorable liver function profile and immune response,” explained Dr. Gunter.
A Few Asterisks
There are still a lot of questions that need to be answered regarding exactly what it is about coffee that is beneficial. One interesting side note to the research is that those that drink decaf coffee seemed to show the same beneficial results as those that drink the caffeinated variety – although the study wasn’t able to determine when the drinkers switched to decaf, so caffeine may still play a part.
The study has a few other notable gaps in it as well. As the BBC notes, the research does not take into account the subjects’ financial situation. Coffee is relatively affordable, but drinking three cups a day can quickly add up. That increases the chances that the subjects drinking three cups a day were either wealthy enough to afford to pay a store/restaurant, could buy enough at the market to drink it daily, or they were employed at a place that offered free coffee. In any of those cases, that would suggest the subjects had at least some expendable wealth, which could mean better healthcare, better food, and an overall better lifestyle.
Of course, there are a few downsides to drinking coffee as well. Caffeine is one of the most addictive drugs on the planet, and quitting suddenly can lead to headaches. It also stains your teeth and makes your breath stink. But weighing that next to an 18-percent less chance of death from pretty much any common circulatory or digestive disease seems like a fair trade.