If you need your morning, afternoon and evening coffee fixes, two new studies are offering you good news: people who drink a few cups of coffee per day may live longer than non-coffee drinkers. Your morning cup of java may even lower your risk of dying from heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes and kidney disease.
These are the promising findings coming out of a large-scale study out of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and Imperial College London and the University of Southern California.
“We cannot say drinking coffee will prolong your life, but we see an association,” Dr. Veronica Setiawan, lead author of the USC study, said.
“We found that higher coffee consumption was associated with a lower risk of death from any cause, and specifically for circulatory diseases, and digestive diseases,” Dr. Marc Gunter, of the IARC, said.
The IARC is the World Health Organization’s cancer research arm. In its latest study, which it’s calling the “largest study of its kind,” the global agency suggests that drinking about three cups of coffee a day cuts the risk of death from all causes.
The findings are based on data from more than 500,000 people across 10 European countries, including Denmark, France, Italy and the U.K. The study participants were 35 and older.
The Danes reported the highest level of coffee consumption – 900 millilitres per day – while Italians reported the lowest at 92 millilitres per day. Across the board, the heaviest coffee drinkers tended to be younger, smokers, drinkers and people who ate more meat and fewer fruits and vegetables.
Coffee consumption varied from country to country, from espresso in Italy to cappuccino in the U.K.
At the 16-year follow-up, 42,000 people had died from various diseases, such as cancer, heart failure and stroke. After controlling for lifestyle factors, such as diet and smoking, the scientists learned that those who drank the most coffee had a lower risk of dying compared to people who didn’t drink coffee at all.
After zeroing in on a subset of the study’s participants, the scientists found that coffee drinkers had “healthier livers” and better glucose control than non-coffee drinkers.
Decaffeinated coffee even had an effect.
“Importantly, these results were similar across all of the 10 European countries, with variable coffee drinking habits and customs. Our study also offers important insights into the possible mechanisms for the beneficial health effects of coffee,” Gunter said.
In the U.S. findings, the West coast researchers suggest that people in the study sample who drank a cup of coffee a day were 12 per cent less likely to die compared to those who didn’t drink coffee.
The link becomes more pronounced for those who drank two to three cups a day – they had an 18 per cent reduced chance of dying.
Your morning pick-me-up’s perks extend into boosting memory, fighting Type 2 diabetes and lowering risk of several types of cancer scientists have suggested in handfuls of studies.
“Coffee contains a lot of antioxidants and phenolic compounds that play an important role in cancer prevention,” Setiawan said.
Harvard researchers found that coffee drinkers were 50 per cent less likely to get liver cancer than non-drinkers. Other studies have pointed to coffee’s link to lower rates of colon, breast and rectal cancers.
It didn’t matter if people drank their coffee black, decaf, half-caf or even instant in a University of Southern California study – coffee, across the board, lowered risk of colorectal cancer.