Maybe it's because it's one of the most commonly consumed drinks worldwide, or maybe it's because it's just so tasty, but there's a lot of coffee research. And a new study found that the drink could extend your life.
That study, published Nov. 16 in the journal Circulation, joins many other studies that have found beneficial health effects tied to coffee. Now, that's not to say that no research suggests that too much coffee could be bad — there's plenty. Still, for the millions of daily coffee drinkers, studies like this newest one can be encouraging.
This study, which looked at more than 208,000 health professionals from three large patient groups, found that moderate coffee drinkers were more likely to survive during up to 30 years of follow-up time.
Lead study author Ming Ding, MD, a doctoral student at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues found this link among drinkers of both caffeinated and decaf java, suggesting that caffeine isn't necessarily what's behind the possible health effects of coffee.
"Bioactive compounds in coffee reduce insulin resistance and systematic inflammation," Dr. Ding said in a press release. "They might be responsible for the inverse association between coffee and mortality. However, more studies are needed to investigate the biological mechanisms producing these effects."
But don't go bottoms-up with the coffee pot just yet — patients in this study who drank more than 5 cups of joe per day were actually slightly more likely to die than those who never drank coffee. Those who drank about 1 to 3 cups were about 9 percent less likely to die. And an intake of 3 to 5 cups a day was tied to a roughly 7 percent lower risk of dying, Ming and team found.
Ming and team took their research a step further to address a common, unhealthy pairing: coffee and cigarettes. When these researchers adjusted their data to eliminate those who drank coffee and smoked, the study patients' reduced risk of death lowered even further.
For coffee drinkers, this study is surely good news, but take it with a grain of salt — or sugar, if you like your coffee sweet. This observational study wasn't designed to highlight cause and effect. It only found a link between coffee intake and a moderately reduced risk of dying. Factors other than coffee intake could have played a role in these findings. As is the case with most studies like this, more research is needed to further support these findings.
The National Institutes of Health funded this research. Ming and colleagues disclosed no conflicts of interest.