Does Drinking Coffee Make You Live Longer?

Coffee drinkers may be at a lower risk of mortality than their non-coffee drinking counterparts, according to research recently published in JAMA. This finding was true for drinkers of all types of coffee, whether instant, ground, or decaffeinated. Researchers accounted for genes responsible for coffee metabolism as well and found that this decreased mortality was observed regardless of genetic makeup.

Using data from the UK Biobank, a large scale genetic study, the National Cancer Institute compared mortalities of coffee drinkers and non-coffee drinkers over a 10-year period. Analyzing over 500,000 people with a mean age of 57, the team found that mortality was inversely correlated with death rates, even in those who reported drinking over 8 cups of coffee a day.

Being that the data was collected from a British population, their coffee drinking habits differed from most of the world, one such deviance being the high prevalence of instant coffee drinkers in the study. Most coffee drinkers were also found to be white males who were former smokers, and drink alcohol. The latter two of these traits is surprising, being that these coffee drinkers had significantly decreased mortality risk.

Previous research has shown that variants in CYP1A2, the gene responsible for almost all caffeine metabolism, may be at a higher predisposition for hypertension and myocardial infarction; however, this study showed no increased risks for any genetic variants.

These findings provide very strong evidence that coffee may play a role in reducing mortality, but which aspect of coffee could be responsible for this?

Potential Health Benefits of Coffee

Coffee is the leading source of antioxidants in the American diet. In a 2005 study led by Joe A. Vinson, professor at the University of Scranton, researchers found that the average American consumes almost 1,300 milligrams of antioxidants a day from coffee, with the closest competitor being tea at 294 milligrams.

Additionally, coffee contains polyphenols and several other anti-inflammatory compounds and has been shown in several studies to lower cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other inflammation-linked diseases. A group of researchers at Stanford University added caffeine to several isolated inflammatory compounds and found that it prevented these compounds from creating inflammatory effects.

Coffee has also been found to decrease risk of diabetes. Analyzing data collected over a 20-year period, a study found that those who increased coffee consumption by more than 1 cup a day experienced an 11% lower risk of Type 2 diabetes than those who did not increase coffee consumption.

The researchers emphasize the potential noncaffeine components of coffee that may be involved in this relationship between coffee and mortality and conclude that their research supports incorporation of coffee into a healthy diet.

Sources:  JAMANBC