Coffee may lead to longer life, study says

The latest study to link coffee and longevity adds to a growing body of evidence that far from a vice the brew can be protective of good health

In the biggest study of its kind, scientists found that coffee really can help people live longer, with people who drank six or seven cups a day 16% less likely to die from any disease over a 10-year period than those who never touched it.

In a research study of almost 500,000 adults in Britain, those who consumed instant, ground and decaf coffee - even as much as 8 cups daily - had a slightly lower risk of death over 10 years than those who did not. However, the researchers stressed that the study only found an association with coffee and longevity and didn't prove that coffee leads to a longer life.

The study, officially entitled, "Association of Coffee Drinking With Mortality by Genetic Variation in Caffeine Metabolism", was published this week in JAMA Internal Medicine.

"These results provide further evidence that coffee drinking can be part of a healthy diet and may provide reassurance to those who drink coffee and enjoy it".

Due in part to these compounds, people who follow a more plant-based approach to eating have lower rates of chronic diseases, such as certain cancers, obesity, diabetes, dementia, heart disease and depression, she added. But those studies only looked at coffee drinking after disease occurrence and did not examine overall mortality risk, as the current paper did, Loftfield said. To reap the benefit, it doesn't matter if your coffee is decaf or instant or caffeinated, the researchers said.

Coffee lovers may not have to feel that familiar pang of guilt when pouring themselves yet another cup of joe for the day.

In April, pregnant women were warned off coffee altogether by Norwegian researchers who linked consumption of medium to high levels of caffeine during pregnancy with infant weight gain. "To better understand the potential biological mechanisms underlying the observed associations of coffee with various health outcomes, additional studies are needed".

People should also be aware that some people have a physical sensitivity to coffee. But the new study suggests even higher amounts of coffee could be beneficial.

And the researchers say there's no added benefit to drinking more coffee than one usually does. Some people are more sensitive to the effects of coffee.

Tufts University nutrition expert Alice Lichtenstein, who was not involved in the study, said that the results do not mean that non-coffee drinkers should force themselves to drink it. But non-coffee drinkers were more likely to have died than coffee-drinkers. "But if they don't drink coffee, these findings don't say to start drinking it", Loftfield said. But it turns out that even slow caffeine metabolizers seem to share the death-risk-reduction connected to coffee drinking. So if you drank that coffee, you had a slightly lower chance of dying during the 10 years the study examined.

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