Thursday, May 17, 2012

Drinking coffee makes you live longer

Having a cup of coffee is a morning ritual for many of us, and some people actually drink it all day long. While much has been said about how healthy, or unhealthy, coffee consumption actually is, scientists from the National Cancer Institute in the USA have discovered that it actually makes you live longer, by decreasing the chance of acquiring many different diseases. While a causal relationship has not been found, it is a promising result for the coffee drinkers among us, including myself.

In total, the study lasted around 14 years, which allowed for plenty of follow-up time to gather health information. Obviously, the scientists divided the participants based on coffee consumption, and linked health assessments to the number of cups of coffee that they consumed on a daily basis. The scientists also looked at the difference between men and women. Because 229,119 men and 173,141 women were tracked, the study is sure to have a proper sample size. They were all aged between 50 and 71.
After the 14 year follow-up period, the researchers noted that there is a clear relationship between coffee consumption and longer life. Specifically, they calculated that men drinking at least 2-3 cups per day were found to be 10 percent less likely to die during the study. The same was found to be true for people drinking even more coffee. Drinking just one cup appeared not enough to live longer. For women, the effect of drinking coffee was even more pronounced: those drinking 2-3 cups per day were found 13 percent less likely to die, while a consumption of at least six cups per day was associated with a 15 percent decrease. When breaking it down to individual diseases, coffee drinkers were found to die less due to heart disease, respiratory disease, stroke, injuries and accidents, diabetes, and infections, but there was no effect on cancer deaths.

While the results show a clear relationship between drinking coffee and prolonging life, the exact cause is unclear. What the scientists found is a correlation, but finding such pronounced differences in both men and women, and for many causes of death, sure points at health benefits for coffee. The question remains which coffee substance is responsible for the observed effects. It is likely that a combination of them is providing the asserted effect, as coffee contains over a thousand individual compounds. It will therefore not be easy to extract the stuff that is responsible for prolonging our life.

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