Tea drinkers may look down at coffee drinkers for what has long been considered an unhealthy habit, but that may soon end: More and more evidence is showing that not only is coffee not bad for you, it actually might be good for you.
Gunnars created the chart using data from a large study inThe New England Journal of Medicine, which followed 229,119 men and 173,141 women for 13 years. The participants were between 50 and 71 when the study started.
The researchers found a small but significant inverse association between coffee drinking and mortality. In other words: The more coffee people drank, the likelier they were to still be alive when the study ended.
Some caveats: Those who drank 4-5 cups per day were better off than those who pushed it to 6+, and the finding was only true after the researchers controlled for bad habits like smoking. So, if you take a cigarette with your coffee, any protective effect disappears.
And the researchers emphasised that coffee drinking was associated with a reduced likelihood of death during those 13 years — it wasn’t necessarily the cause.
One buzzkill study in Mayo Clinic Proceedings suggests that the positive effects of heavy coffee drinking might not hold true for everyone. When researchers followed 43,727 participants for a median of 17 years, they found that for people younger than 55, drinking more than 4 cups of a coffee a day was actually associated with a higher likelihood of death.
Still, more and more studies are showing coffee’s good side.
One study in the European Journal of Epidemiology found “quantitative evidence that coffee intake is inversely related to all cause and, probably, [cardiovascular disease] mortality.”
A 2013 analysis of almost a million people came to the same conclusion: “Our findings indicate that coffee consumption is associated with a reduced risk of total mortality.”
More research is underway, and a cause-effect relationship will be difficult to demonstrate. But based on the research we have so far, the time may not be distant when we celebrate coffee as a health food.
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