CHICAGO Go ahead and have that cup of coffee, maybe even several more. Now new evidence suggests that even heavy intake of coffee can positively affect a person's lifespan. But this is the first large study to show a benefit regardless of a drinker's caffeine metabolism.
No matter the cause of death, drinking coffee was associated with longer life expectancy for all participants, aged between 38-73 years. The study looked at some common gene variations that help determine whether someone metabolizes caffeine quickly or slowly, but didn't find any difference in health risk. Those who drank six to seven cups a day saw a 16 percent decrease.
The study of nearly half-a-million British adults found that coffee drinkers have a lower risk of death over 10 years than those who don't drink it. Picture: AAP.
Additionally, "coffee drinkers were more likely than abstainers to drink alcohol and smoke, but the researchers took those factors into account, and coffee drinking seemed to cancel them out".
'These findings suggest the importance of non-caffeine constituents in the coffee-mortality association and provide further reassurance that coffee drinking can be a part of a healthy diet'.
"Early on, there were some reports of potential adverse effects as far as coffee and health outcomes", said Alice Lichtenstein, the Gershoff Professor of nutrition science and policy at Tufts University.
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"It's hard to believe that something we enjoy so much could be good for us".
Of the study cohort, about 78 percent were coffee drinkers and researchers followed up with this group over 10 years with the end result being mortality. If there were a big study on fruits and vegetables lowering the risk of dying, we'd all just shrug, she said.
Drawing information from the UK's Biobank data resource, which holds information on around nine million people, researchers were also able to profile British java drinkers.
Past studies have indicated an inverse association between drinking coffee and the risk of developing chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, Parkinson's and cancers of the liver, bowel, colon and endometrium.
On the basis of this study, some people who were holding back on coffee because of lingering health concerns may want to drink a little more if they want to, professor Lichstenstein says.
"If somebody enjoys drinking coffee, they may continue to enjoy it based on these findings".
The research didn't include whether participants drank coffee black or with cream and sugar.