Does Drinking Three Cups of Coffee a Day Help You Live Longer?

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Wednesday 12th July 2017

A study was published yesterday claiming that drinking coffee can lead to longer lives, unrelated to nationality or method of preparation. However the results from a very wide study have led sceptics to question what factors are actually at play with the findings.

The study, Coffee Drinking and Mortality in 10 European Countries was undertaken by research staff from the International Agency for Research on Cancer as well as Imperial College London. The study, published in the American journal, Annals of Internal Medicine, looked at the relationship between the consumption of coffee and mortality in ten countries in the European Union, by studying the data of 521,330 healthy people over the age of 35.

The results were telling: there was a link between people who drank large amounts of coffee and a reduced risk of premature death overall, particularly for heart and stomach diseases. A link that if it was entirely down to coffee itself, would mean an extra cup of coffee would extend a man’s life by three months on average and a woman’s by roughly a month.

There’s more to this however, and as a result it might be worth waiting before pouring another cup.

Because the study was so broad, not every environmental factor could be ruled out. For instance, the earnings of the people in the study was not recorded, so it is possible for example that people who drink a lot of coffee also earn enough money to afford improved health care or products to improve their wellbeing. Even if other products aren’t involved, the correlation between coffee drinking and other lifestyle factors cannot be taken into account given the source of the information used.

Another major factor in the study is that anyone who had diabetes, a history of heart attacks or strokes was excluded from the study, which means that even if the effects of coffee on health are positive in their own right, it is unknown whether that is the same if people are unwell.

The effects of caffeine and whether it, coffee or anything else with it in has a history of conflicting studies. Caffeine as a stimulant is usually associated with alertness, with addictive qualities that affects people very differently. In some cases it is seen as beneficial, but in other cases is linked to heart issues. There is also the case of Davis Allen Cripe, a teenager in the United States who died suddenly due to what is suspected to be a heart attack caused by drinking a number of caffeinated drinks over too short a period of time.

Despite the reporting of the study, it may not be worth changing your habits just yet. For coffee drinkers who don’t drink an excessive amount, it isn’t a call to drink more, nor should non-coffee drinkers feel compelled to drink coffee to live longer, not until more confounding elements can be ruled out at least.