Two new studies reveal that greater coffee intake may increase life expectancy. Coffee’s health effects have always been questioned, but this finding has brought the centuries-old conversation back to the surface.
In one study, over 520,000 people across 10 European countries volunteered to complete a survey on mortality and coffee. Researchers discovered that consuming more coffee could reduce the risk or mortality significantly.
In the second study, more than 185,000 people in nonwhite populations – Hawaiians, Native Americans, African-Americans and Japanese-Americans – volunteered to complete a similar study. The findings for this study revealed that greater coffee intake improves lifespan across different races.
People who consumed between two to four cups of coffee daily were 18 percent less likely to die compared to non-coffee drinkers. These findings supported previous studies that focused primarily on people from white populations, said lead author of the study on nonwhite populations and associate professor at USC’s Keck School of Medicine, Veronica Wendy Setiawan.
“Given these very diverse populations, all these people have different lifestyles. They have very different dietary habits and different susceptibilities – and we still find similar patterns,” Setiawan said.
The new study reveals a much stronger biological possibility for the connection between coffee and longer life. Researchers discovered mortality was inversely associated with coffee consumption for cancer, diabetes, stroke and kidney, respiratory and cardiovascular.
The study that focused on European countries showed an inverse connection between coffee and cancer in women, liver disease, suicide in men and circulatory and digestive diseases. For people who consumed three or more cups of coffee daily had a much lower risk of all-cause mortality compared to non-coffee drinkers.
“We looked at multiple countries across multiple countries across Europe, where the way the population drinks coffee and prepares coffee is quite different,” said co-author of the European study and reader in cancer epidemiology and prevention at Imperial College’s School of Public Health, Marc Gunter.
“The fact that we saw the same relationships in different countries is kind of the implication that its something about coffee rather than its something about the way that coffee is prepared or the way it’s drunk,” Gunter said.
Coffee consists of various compounds that have biological effects, including anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties that are capable of decreasing the risk of conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease.
Coffee drinkers in the European study were apt to have healthier lipid profiles, lower levels of inflammation and improved glucose control, when compared to non-coffee drinkers. The authors noted that it was unclear which compounds provided the health benefits.
Nonsmokers and smokers were separated into two groups for both studies. The primary reason for this is because smoking is connected to decrease longevity and various diseases. Nevertheless, coffee still had inverse effects on mortality for smokers, as well.
“Smoking doesn’t seem to blunt the effects of coffee,” Gunter said. “It didn’t mater whether you smoked or not. There was still a potential beneficial affect of coffee on mortality.”
Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Dr. Alberto Ascherio, says people should take notice of these findings.
“Even if it was in some way true, it doesn’t make sense to me, because by smoking you increase your mortality several-fold. Then, if you reduce it by 10 percent drinking coffee, give me a break,” said Ascherio.
“I think its dangerous proposition because it suggests that a smoker can counteract the effects of smoking by drinking coffee, which is borderline insane.”
Both studies were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.