Coffee

It loves me… It loves me not… It loves me… Our relationship with coffee can feel like a back and forth romantic drama of bad-and-good for us all at once. And now, more evidence that coffee loves you, well, sort of. A new study suggests coffee drinkers live longer than non-coffee drinkers.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine and conducted by researchers at the National Cancer Institute, the National Institutes of Health and AARP, enlisted data from 400,000 individuals—the largest study of its kind. Data was gathered from AARP questionnaires and surveys collected in the 1990s. Participants were followed up with over the course of the next fourteen years.

Some of the results are pretty easy to swallow: whether you drink decaf or regular didn’t seem to affect your chances of living longer. And, it seems, the more coffee you drink, the longer you may actually live. Overall, the research team found that the risk of dying during the study’s 14-year period for coffee drinkers consuming two to six cups per day was 10 percent lower for men and about 15 percent lower for women.

But the researchers weren’t totally clear on just what specifically caused the longevity. Coffee contains numerous phytochemicals, antioxidants and other ingredients that have been shown to be both extremely beneficial and not necessarily so. Caffeine, for example, one of the main properties of coffee, is connected with a number of negative health effects including increasing blood pressure and an increased risk of heart disease. But caffeine was not a factor in the study.

And the overall results showed some inconsistencies. Coffee drinkers had a higher risk of sudden death, but they were also less likely to die from heart disease, diabetes, accidents or infections. But perhaps the most critical finding was that the strongest benefits of coffee consumption were seen in individuals who were already considered extremely healthy when the study began.

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Image: Mykl Roventine