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Do coffee drinkers live longer?

Updated on January 14, 2017

Let’s face it, coffee makes the world go round. The mysterious black liquid is a cure for the ailments of the soul, at least for coffee people like me. I can never function without my first morning cup, and if you talk to me I can’t, under any circumstances, guarantee I will be friendly. But what does the science say about this tiny black river, where writers, thinkers, and basically everyone else drown their sorrows ? Is it good for you ? Or does it, like most good things in life, come with the possibility of killing you slowly? Buckle up, folks!

Does coffee cause heart disease?

In my humble opinion, there’s a special place in hell for people who needlessly ruin everything good in life. These individuals claim that everything, from oral sex, wine to WIFI, is bad for your health. We might as well go live in a sanitized cubicle and withdraw from all life! But in the case of coffee there’s some truth to it, unfortunately it has been misrepresented. Indeed, some studies have shown a correlation between coffee drinking and an increased risk of heart disease. But like scientists always say “correlation is not causation!” Just because there’s a correlation between ice cream sales and incidents of drowning in the summer, it doesn’t mean that ice cream is, in reality, an evil alien who drowns people. It only means that the increase of ice cream sales and drowning rates can be explained by a third factor, in this case summer, more visits to the beach, swimming and occasional unfortunate drowning. Similarly, the increase of the risk of heart disease and coffee consumption is linked with the third factor of tobacco smoking, since coffee drinkers are usually heavy smokers. When correcting for smoking and other lifestyle choices associated with coffee drinking, scientists found no correlation between increased risk of heart disease and coffee consumption. Some even suggest a reduced risk for heart disease. So coffee does not cause heart problems! But smoking is bad for you!

Coffee and mortality

But wait there’s more ! A study, spanning over a decade measured, among 229,119 men and 173,141 women in the National Institutes of Health, the relationship between coffee and mortality rates. Yes that’s huge and the first of its kind! The study found a significant inverse relation between coffee drinking and mortality. That means that coffee drinkers tended to live longer. This is not the only study that found health benefits from coffee drinking. The antioxidants in coffee have numerous health benefits, and previous studies have shown coffee to be linked to lower risks for diabetes, inflammatory diseases, stroke, and even liver cancer. But this study was the first to find a strong correlation between coffee and mortality. Of course, more studies need to be done to confirm and replicate the findings. But it’s good to know that the best data we have so far suggests that we, the cool coffee people, are more likely to live longer and conquer the world! It’s good to keep in mind that dose also matters, so it’s optimal to consume between two and four cups a day, to rip the benefits of the magic liquid without losing your sleep.


References

  • ND Freedman, Y Park, CC Abnet, AR Hollenbeck, R Sinha. Association of coffee drinking with total and cause-specific mortality. N Engl J Med. 2012 May 17;366(20):1891-904

  • Andersen LF, Jacobs DR Jr, Carlsen MH, Blomhoff R. Consumption of coffee is associated with reduced risk of death attributed to inflammatory and cardio-vascular diseases in the Iowa Women’s Health Study. Am J Clin Nutr 2006.
  • Greenberg JA, Chow G, Ziegelstein RC. Caffeinated coffee consumption, car-diovascular disease, and heart valve dis-ease in the elderly.
  • Lopez-Garcia E, van Dam RM, Willett WC, et al. Coffee consumption and coro-nary heart disease in men and women: a prospective cohort study.
  • Larsson SC, Männistö S, Virtanen MJ, Kontto J, Albanes D, Virtamo J. Coffee and tea consumption and risk of stroke subtypes in male smokers.
  • Lopez-Garcia E, Rodriguez-Artalejo F, Rexrode KM, Logroscino G, Hu FB, van Dam RM. Coffee consumption and risk of stroke in women.

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