Two recent studies claim that drinking more coffee may increase life span. These new findings have resurrected the same issues regarding coffee that have been discussed for many decades already.
A study that was conducted by Drs. Marc J. Gunter, et. al made a survey of more than 520,000 individuals in ten European countries. Such survey was a record-breaking survey regarding coffee and mortality. Results revealed that drinking more coffee could reduce one’s risks of mortality.
Another study was focused on non-white groups and surveyed more than Native Americans, African-Americans, Japanese-Americans, Hawaiians, whites and Latinos. They found that coffee increases life span across different races.
It was found out that those who drank 2 to 4 cups of coffee every day had 18 percent reduced risks of death than those who did not drink coffee. According to Veronica Wendy Setiawan, Associate Prof of preventive medicine in USC and who headed the study on non-white population, the results were consistent with earlier studies involving white population.
Setiawan explains, “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.”
This latest study claims that there is a stronger biological chances of links between coffee and longevity. It was found out that mortality was reciprocally associated with drinking coffee for respiratory diseases, heart diseases, kidney diseases, stroke, cancer, and diabetes.
On the other hand, the study on European regions showed an opposite link between coffee and liver diseases, circulatory diseases, digestive diseases, cancer in women, and suicide in men. Those who have 3 and more cups of coffee every day had reduced risks for all-cause death compared to those who did not drink coffee.
Marc Gunter, co-author of the European study and a reader in cancer epidemiology and prevention at Imperial College School of Public Health-UK, said, “We looked at multiple countries across Europe, where the way the population drinks coffee and prepares coffee is quite different,” he continued, “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.”
Health Benefits and Oppositions
Both studies also revealed that some compounds contain neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory elements that may aid in minimizing risks for some diseases such as Parkinson’s disease. Particularly, the European study also showed results where individuals who drank coffee are inclined to have reduced levels of inflammation, better glucose control, and healthier lipid profiles in comparison with people who were not. While it is not yet clear what specific compounds bring health benefits, Gunter noted that he was interested in doing more studies about this.
It should be noted that the two studies separated the nonsmokers from smokers taking into consideration that smoking is known to minimize longevity and is associated with different illnesses. Hence, they learned that coffee had opposite impact on mortality for smokers also.
Gunter explained, “Smoking doesn’t seem to blunt the effects of coffee. It didn’t matter whether you smoked or not. There was still a potential beneficial effect of coffee on mortality.”
Meanwhile, Dr. Alberto Ascherio, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health said that general public should still be warned about these findings. He noted, “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% drinking coffee, give me a break.” Dr. Ascherio was not a member of the study.
Dr. Ascherio further said, “I think it’s a dangerous proposition because it suggests that a smoker can counteract the effects of smoking by drinking coffee, which is borderline insane.” Although he admitted that both studies support the works that were conducted about coffee and mortality and it has substantially recorded that coffee drinkers have reduced risks of death.
Gunter explained that it would be hard to eliminate the possibility that those who drink coffee are healthier considering all the observations from earlier studies and research. While those who do not drink coffee, especially in regions such as Europe and U.S., where drinking coffee is common, may do so since they have other health problems. Their high rate for mortality might have been a result of these people who were being less healthy.
Ascherio said, “I think that the solid conclusion is that if you’re a coffee drinker, keep drinking your coffee and be happy. And if you’re not? I think you can go on drinking your tea or water without a problem.”
Setiawan and Gunter are firm with their stance that coffee provides health benefits. “Moderate coffee consumption can be incorporated into a healthy diet and lifestyle. This studies and the previous studies suggest that for a majority of people, there’s no long term harm from drinking coffee,” Setiawan concluded.
The two studies were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Other article on health tips: Teas and Food Pairings for a Healthy Lifestyle.