Groundbreaking news for coffee lovers!

06 July 2018
Posted by Vy Nguyen.

Coffee lovers, rejoice! If you are a coffee drinker, regardless of whether it's ground, instant, or decaffeinated, you may live longer than people who do not drink coffee...

According to a new study from the National Cancer Institute, published this week in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, a high coffee consumption - meaning 8 cups or more - can be a part of a healthy diet. The study also explored the role that genetic changes affecting the rate at which a person metabolises caffeine have on the observed coffee-mortality relationship.

Coffee drinkers, the study concludes, are less likely to develop chronic diseases including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain types of cancers. This could, the study authors suggest, be down to the more than 1,000 chemicals found in coffee beans, including cell-protecting antioxidants.

In 2015, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee investigated the health benefits of coffee consumption among healthy individuals. The study concluded that a moderate amount of caffeine intake, usually 3 to 5 cups or 400 milligrams per day, is not associated with increased long-term health risk.

"Although coffee is one of the most commonly consumed beverages worldwide, and epidemiologic studies have generally reported inverse associations with mortality, there remain concerns about coffee, and more specifically the amount of caffeine intake," says lead researcher Erikka Loftfield from the National Cancer Institute.

From 2006 to 2016, Loftfield and her team looked at baseline demographic, lifestyle, and genetic data from a total of 497,134 individuals enrolled in a project called the UK Biobank. The ages of the participants ranged from 38 to 73 years old; equal numbers of men and women were studied, and over three quarters were coffee drinkers.

All of the participants reported how many cups of coffee they drank each day, and coffee drinkers were also asked what type of coffee they consumed including decaffeinated, instant, and ground coffee.

Over the course of a 10-year follow-up period, 14,225 of the participants died. Compare with non-coffee drinkers, the heavier coffee consumers were up to 16% less likely to have died, regardless of the types of coffee - regular or decaffeinated, instant or ground - that were drunk. Somewhat surprisingly, the results also showed that people who metabolise caffeine more slowly share the same death-risk reduction as people who metabolise caffeine at a normal rate.

So does that mean that non-coffee drinkers should start drinking coffee? "Our study provides further evidence that coffee drinking can be part of a healthy diet and offers reassurance to coffee drinkers, but it does not suggest that people should start drinking coffee or change their drinking habits for health benefits," explains Loftfield.

Although the study demonstrated significant findings and is in agreement with previous studies, the results should be interpreted with caution since they are based on observational data. There is no concrete proof to say that coffee itself is the main cause in the reduction of death risk but the study does show that coffee drinkers are less likely to die compared to non-coffee drinkers.

"Overall, we observed an inverse associated for coffee drinking with mortality, including among participants drinking 1 up to 8 or more cups per day...moreover, we found no differences by genetic polymorphisms affecting caffeine metabolism in our study," says Loftfield.

So go ahead and pour yourself another cup of joe - even if you have already had your caffeine fix for the day.

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