Can coffee really make you live longer?

Regular coffee intake could help to prolong your life.
Regular coffee intake could help to prolong your life.

Oh, the ritual of stopping at your favourite coffee shop and taking the first sip of your steaming Americano! Some of us feel guilty about our indulgence, but apparently you don't have to...

Your morning cup of coffee may be doing more than serving up a needed caffeine jolt – it may be adding years to your life.

Only a preliminary study

At least that's the conclusion of a preliminary study that suggests – but doesn't prove – that coffee is associated with a lower risk of death in the next 10 years.

"Our findings suggest that drinking four cups of coffee each day can be part of a healthy diet in healthy people," said researcher Dr Adela Navarro, a cardiologist at Hospital de Navarra in Pamplona, Spain.

The findings were presented recently at the European Society of Cardiology Congress, in Barcelona.

Link between coffee and risk of death

For the study, researchers investigated the association between coffee consumption and risk of death. The observational study involved about 20 000 middle-aged people from the Mediterranean region. The participants were 37 years old, on average, at the start of the study and were followed for approximately 10 years.

"Coffee is one of the most widely consumed beverages around the world," Navarro said in a society news release. "Previous studies have suggested that drinking coffee might be inversely associated with all-cause mortality but this has not been investigated in a Mediterranean country."

When the study began, the participants completed a survey about their lifestyle, overall health, diet and coffee consumption. The researchers also collected socio-demographic information, such as age, gender and ethnicity.

During the follow-up period, the researchers tracked the participants using information from their families, updates from the post office and a national death index.

Stronger effect on older people

Over the course of the next decade, 337 of the participants died. And those who drank at least four cups of coffee a day had a 64% lower risk of death from any cause than those who drank little or no coffee on a regular basis, the study authors said.

After examining additional data, the researchers said they found the benefit of drinking coffee was even more notable among the participants who were 45 or older. Among these people, drinking two extra cups of coffee a day was linked with a 30% lower risk of death during the follow-up period.

"We found an inverse association between drinking coffee and the risk of all-cause mortality, particularly in people aged 45 years and above. This may be due to a stronger protective association among older participants," Navarro said.

The negatives

Drinking coffee certainly has some benefits, but there are a number of negative effects in some people. Examples are:

  • Anxiety
  • Sleeplessness
  • Nervousness and restlessness
  • Stomach upset
  • Nausea
  • Increased heart rate
  • Headache

Also remember that coffee adds extra calories to your overall diet when you add sugar, sweetened syrup or cream.

Image credit: iStock

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