Too much caffeine used to be considered a bad thing, making you think twice about going for refills, but now researchers say drinking coffee could extend your life.
A recent study published found that coffee drinkers are less likely to die from several common health conditions, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, accidents and infections than non-coffee drinkers are.
Researchers from the National Cancer Institute conducted an observational study from data that followed 402,000 adults aged 50 to 71, between 1995 and 2008, including more than 52,000 who died. People who drank three or more cups of coffee per day had a 10 percent lower risk of death than the non-coffee drinkers.
Several studies have found that coffee reduces the risk of several other medical conditions, including stroke, depression, dementia and several other cancers.
“We found coffee consumption to be associated with lower risk of death overall, and of death from a number of different causes,” Neal Freedman, lead author of the study and an investigator in the National Cancer Institute’s division of cancer epidemiology and genetics, said in a statement.
“Although we cannot infer a causal relationship between coffee drinking and lower risk of death, we believe these results do provide some reassurance that coffee drinking does not adversely affect health.
In the study, both regular and decaf were associated with a lower risk of dying, which suggests that these and other substances in coffee might be more important than caffeine. But even decaf contains trace amounts of caffeine, so the authors can’t entirely rule out the possibility that caffeine has an effect on health, Freedman says.
While the study will be well received by coffee drinkers, Freedman urges coffee enthusiasts to check with their doctors and use common sense.
The study was not without limitations, researchers noted, including that Freedman’s team only knew how much coffee participants drank at one point in the mid-1990s, and those patterns could have changed over time.
Researchers said that until more research is done, nobody should change their coffee habits because of the findings.
“I don’t want people to read this and say, ‘Oh, I’m going to drink more coffee because I don’t want to die,’” he said. “We just don’t know whether it’s cause or effect.”
Other studies have highlighted that coffee does have modest cardiovascular effects such as increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, and occasional irregular heartbeat that should be considered.
In addition, reports have been largely inconclusive regarding coffee and its effect on women’s health issues such as breast health, cancer, and osteoporosis. However, the negative effects of coffee tend to emerge in excessive drinking so it is best to avoid heavy consumption.