HERE’s another reason why you should continue enjoying your cup of brewed coffee (not instant or 3-in-1) - scientists have found that people who drink coffee appear to live longer.
Coffee is one of the most popular drinks in the world. Some 2.25 billion cups are consumed every day.
People who consumed a cup of coffee a day were 12 percent less likely to die compared to those who didn’t drink coffee. This association was even stronger for those who drank two to three cups a day — 18 percent reduced chance of death.
Lower mortality was present regardless of whether people drank regular or decaffeinated coffee, suggesting the association is not tied to caffeine, said Veronica W. Setiawan, lead author of the study and an associate professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of University of Southern California (USC).
However, some experts cautioned that the study failed to show that coffee was truly the reason that many drinkers appeared to have longer lives.
Rather, the studies were observational in nature, meaning they showed an association between coffee-drinking and a propensity toward longevity, but stopped short of proving cause and effect.
“We cannot say drinking coffee will prolong your life, but we see an association,” Setiawan said. “If you like to drink coffee, drink up! If you’re not a coffee drinker, then you need to consider if you should start.”
The study, which will be published in the July 11 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, used data from the Multiethnic Cohort Study, a collaborative effort between the University of Hawaii Cancer Center and the Keck School of Medicine.
The ongoing Multiethnic Cohort Study has more than 215,000 participants and bills itself as the most ethnically diverse study examining lifestyle risk factors that may lead to cancer.
The first study, led by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and Imperial College London, examined more than half a million people across 10 countries in Europe.
Those who drank about three cups a day tended to live longer than non-coffee drinkers, said the study, which researchers described as the largest analysis of the effects of coffee-drinking in a European population.
“This study is the largest of its kind and includes minorities who have very different lifestyles,” Setiawan said. “Seeing a similar pattern across different populations gives stronger biological backing to the argument that coffee is good for you whether you are white, African-American, Latino or Asian.”
Previous research by USC and others have indicated that drinking coffee is associated with reduced risk of several types of cancer, liver disease, Parkinson’s disease, Type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases.
Setiawan, who drinks one to two cups of coffee daily, said any positive effects from drinking coffee are far-reaching because of the number of people who enjoy or rely on the beverage every day.
“Coffee contains a lot of antioxidants and phenolic compounds that play an important role in cancer prevention,” Setiawan said. “Although this study does not show causation or point to what chemicals in coffee may have this ‘elixir effect,’ it is clear that coffee can be incorporated into a healthy diet and lifestyle.”
But drinking very hot coffee or beverages probably causes cancer in the esophagus, according to a World Health Organization panel of scientists that included Mariana Stern from the Keck School of Medicine.
After 25 years of labeling coffee a carcinogen linked to bladder cancer, the WHO last year announced that drinking coffee reduces the risk for liver and uterine cancer.
The participants in the study reported their coffee drinking habits when they entered the study and updated them about every five years, checking one of nine boxes that ranged from “never or hardly ever” to “four or more cups daily.” They also reported whether they drank caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee. The average follow-up period was 16 years.
The study found benefits to longevity whether the coffee was caffeinated or decaffeinated.
Coffee drinkers had a lower risk of death due to heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, and respiratory and kidney disease.
But some experts who were not involved in the latest studies urged caution in interpreting the results.
For instance, the European study excluded people who had cancer, heart disease or diabetes, meaning it took a measure of people over 35 who were already generally healthy.