Coffee may have perks for longer living

Drinking up to six cups of coffee a day may lower the overall odds of dying prematurely, mainly because it cuts the risk of dying from heart disease, a recent study suggests. But the study found that heavy coffee drinking doesn’t cut your chance of dying from cancer.

“Our results suggest that long-term, regular coffee consumption has several beneficial health effects,” says Esther Lopez-Garcia, lead author of the Harvard School of Public Health report.

Here are more details contained in a report from USA Today: The study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, examines the relationship between coffee and mortality. It is based on the coffee drinking habits of 41,736 men and 86,216 women with no history of cardiovascular disease (CVD) or cancer. The men were followed for 18 years, the women for 24 years.

The results show that as coffee consumption increases, the overall risk of death decreases. The association is explained mostly by a decrease in CVD deaths, Lopez-Garcia says. Women who drank two to three cups of coffee a day, for instance, had a 25% lower risk of dying from heart disease than non-drinkers.

“Coffee has some beneficial effects on inflammation and endothelial function, which are the first stages of CVD development,” Lopez-Garcia says.

No connection was found between coffee consumption and cancer deaths, however. “More studies are necessary to confirm this lack of effect,” she says.

Researchers warn that the study does not prove a cup of joe is linked with long life. A factor other than coffee could be protecting participants, Lopez-Garcia says. A measurement error also could be possible, because consumption levels were self-reported.

“More research is necessary to be able to recommend consuming coffee on a health basis,” she says. “Our study is not enough to make such a statement.”

The findings suggest that a component other than caffeine explains the relationship between coffee and a lower risk of death, Lopez-Garcia says. Participants who drank both decaf and caffeinated coffee had lower death rates than non-drinkers.

Some experts still warn, however, that caffeine can lead to detrimental short-term health effects, such as anxiety and sleep problems.

“If you want the best of both worlds, drink decaf — avoid the caffeine and get the good stuff,” says longtime coffee researcher Terry Graham of the University of Guelph in Canada.

Past research has produced mixed results on the health effects of coffee, but most experts agree coffee is safe and even healthful.

In 2000, a study from researchers at the Mayo Clinic found that coffee intake was linked with decreased rates of Parkinson’s disease. In 2004, Harvard researchers reported that it significantly reduced the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. And a 2005 study found that coffee could help prevent the most common type of liver cancer, according to the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Karen Collins, a nutrition adviser with the American Institute for Cancer Research, says the key to coffee’s health benefits is its antioxidants.

“Coffee drinkers who were scared off years ago by reports that it poses a health threat have no reason to be afraid,” she says. “But people also shouldn’t be saying, ‘I’ll just have some coffee today instead of my fruits and vegetables.’ “

2 thoughts on “Coffee may have perks for longer living

  • Jody Poe

    I’m glad to know we can keep my wife’s decorative plaque that reads “Coffee isn’t a drug, it’s a vitamin”

    Holy grounds it turns out IS for the faint of heart :)

  • Judy Pearson

    From the Picayune’s Creole Cook Book, Fourth Edition: In response to Dr. Walt Larimore’s “Benefits of Coffee”
    Share
    Yesterday at 10:09pm | Edit Note | Delete
    I am putting only a small portion of what I found in a Creole Cook Book that is over 100 years old.

    “The morning cup of Cafe Noir is an integral part of the life of a Creole household. The Creoles hold as a physiological fact that this custom contributes to longevity, and point, day after day, to examples of old men and women of fourscore, and over, who attest to the powerful aid they have received through life from a good, fragrant cup of coffee in the early morning. The ancient residents hold, too, that, after a hearty meal, a cup of ‘Cafe Noir,’ or black coffee, will relieve the sense of oppression so apt to be experienced, and enables the stomach to perform its functions with greater facility. Cafe Noir is know,too, as one of the best preventives of infectious diseases, and the ancient Creole physicians never used any other deodorizer than passing a chafing dish with burning grains of coffee through the room. As an antidote for poison the uses of coffee are too well known to be dilated upon.”

    “Coffee is also the greatest brain food and stimulant known. Men of science, poets and scholars and journalists have testified to its beneficial effects. Coffee supported the old age of Voltaire, and enabled Fontenelle to reach his one hundredth birthday. Charles Gayarre, the illustrious Louisiana historian, at the advanced age of eighty, paid tribute to the Creole cup of ‘Cafe Noir.’ Among the advanced scientists it is rapidly taking the place of digitalis in the treatment of certain cardiac affections, and the basis of black coffee, “caffeine,” enters largely into medicinal compositions. Coffee is now classed by physicians as an auxililiary food substance, as retarding the waste of nerve tissue and action with peculiarly strengthening effect upon the nervous and vascular system.”

    The book then continues with another page and a half of exactly how to make the perfect coffee. The details are a delight!! If I get positive responses, I’ll type up the entire article. Enjoy!

Comments are closed.

Enter your email to subscribe to Dr. Walt's blogs.

You have successfully subscribed to the newsletter

There was an error while trying to send your request. Please try again.

Dr. Walt Larimore will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing.