Drinking coffee, even decaf or instant, may help you live longer

Coffee beans in a mug

The researchers identified the half a million participants through the United Kingdom biobank, an initiative to enroll approximately 9.2 million people, with long-term follow-up, and create a large database of individual, genetic sequencing to further understand the role of DNA on disease and treatment.

The study found that people who drank at least eight cups of coffee a day had a lowered risk of some cancers and heart and lung disease.

But Loftfield cautioned that because this was an observational study, it can't prove that coffee caused people to live longer. Even more impressively, it generally holds true for all coffee drinkers including slow caffeine metabolizers and decaffeinated coffee drinkers. Most of the subjects (154,000) drank two to three cups per day and 10,000 of them drank at least eight cups every day!

In the end, there were 14,225 deaths due to cancer (58 percent); cardiovascular disease (20 percent) and respiratory disease (4 percent). "These findings suggest the importance of noncaffeine constituents in the coffee-mortality association and provide further reassurance that coffee drinking can be a part of a healthy diet". Risk reduction varied slightly depending on how much coffee someone consumed, its caffeine content and whether it was instant or ground.

So the study seems to suggest you can get much the same health benefits from cheap supermarket coffee as from a fancy cup of artisanal terroir coffee.

Christopher Gardner from the Stanford Prevention Research Center explains to NPR that coffee has some polyphenol-like, antioxidant-rich compounds.

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It used participants' own reports of how many cups of coffee they drank per day. Howard Bauchner, editor in chief of the medical journal JAMA and The JAMA Network, noted last month that almost all studies about coffee are association studies.

But for some coffee lovers, this may be the only evidence needed to enjoy more coffee.

While there are caveats to that claim, the new study found that a longer life was linked to any kind of coffee: instant, decaf, whatever.

People should also be aware that some people have a physical sensitivity to coffee. Part of the benefit, he points out, is that coffee simply makes people happy.

So go on, drink another cup, guilt-free. More than half a million people volunteered to give blood and answer detailed health and lifestyle questions for ongoing research into genes and health. "Also, the women with the highest caffeine intakes were older, more likely to be poorly educated or obese prior to pregnancy, and to smoke during pregnancy".

Other studies have found that coffee may help fight inflammation and affect how the body uses insulin, possibly reducing the chance of diabetes.

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