Is Coffee the Elixir of Life?
The New England Journal of Medicine has recently published a study that seems to suggest coffee is an elixir of life. Most coffee drinkers, whether decaf’ or full-bodied, like to believe this in their heart of hearts, but now this study actually gives credence to the view.
[box type="important"]Males who take 2 to 3 cups a day are 10% more likely live longer those who do not drink coffee at all. It’s even better news for females who have a 13% better survival rate than other women who avoid coffee. [/box]
It’s the National Cancer Institute that discovered this ‘philosopher stone’ effect of coffee in the largest ever survey of coffee drinkers compared to non coffee drinkers. It seems that a couple of cups of joe each day may well keep heart disease, diabetes and breathing problems at bay. The study’s authors are quick to point out that it is just a relationship, albeit statistically significant.
[box type="note"]There is no reasonable explanation of the statistic and no suggestion of cause and effect. It is very reassuring. However, for those who worry about possible adverse health effects from their favorite daily beverage.[/box]
The precise link between coffee and longevity is simply not known. Much more research is needed to pin it down. This study is an observational one and given the popularity of coffee it is also a social one. American consumers drank more than 77 billion cups, worth almost $36 billion, in the year to June last year. For 65% of Americans coffee is the drink of choice each day. 73% take some every week. The average consumption is more than 3 cups per day. So are those who don’t drink it, missing out?
The figures came out of a survey of over 400,000 people and just one element in the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study. The respondents were aged 50 to be 71 years old at the beginning of the trial. Coffee consumption was measured once, as the subjects entered the trial.
Males who take the average number of cups each day had a 14% lower risk of death by heart disease, a 17% lower risk of dying from respiratory disease, a 16% reduced probability of dying of stroke and a 25% improvement in freedom from diabetes. Remember this is when compared to people who drank no coffee at all. The figures for females are 15% for heart disease, 21% for respiratory disease, 7% for stroke and a 23% for diabetes.
Further good news for big coffee fans is that 6 plus cups per day reduced their risk numbers even further. There was little association between coffee consumption and the risks of dying from cancer, although the real coffee addicts among men did have a small increased risk of dying from cancer. This research was paid for by the National Institutes of Health. Be aware of the caveats.
However, because it may not indicate lifelong patterns of coffee drinking and there is no data about the coffee-making processes involved. There are over a thousand different compounds in coffee that may contribute to these health relationships.