If your most important meeting of the day is with a barista, you're not alone, as the average Brit consumes 500g of coffee a year (around 200 cups).
Although high coffee intake has been loosely linked to high levels of cholesterol and the risk of coronary heart disease, recent research claims it may have one major health benefit that trumps them all – it could make you live longer.
A new 14-year study by the National Cancer Institute (the largest ever analysis of the link between coffee consumption and mortality) claims that men who drink at least six cups of coffee a day reduce their risk of dying by 12%.
For latte-loving women (those who guzzle four to five cups a day), the risk of dying was 15% lower than non-coffee drinkers. Even one cup a day makes a difference, as the study found a 5% decrease in mortality in those who drank a single cup daily.
Researchers added that this ‘coffee effect’ was seen across all causes of death, including heart and respiratory disease, stroke, accidents and diabetes.
However, this was in the exception of cancer, as cancer-related deaths were slightly higher among male coffee drinkers.
"There have been concerns for a long time that coffee might be a risky behaviour," explains study leader Neal Freedman in a statement.
"The results offer some reassurance that it's not a risk factor for future disease."
The study reviewed the coffee habits of more than 402,000 people between 1995 and 2008.
Although the initial study contradicted the findings above by discovering a higher risk of death among coffee drinkers, this was only because so many of them smoked cigarettes too.
Once researchers took out the smoking element, they found a link between coffee and low mortality.
Interestingly, it didn’t matter whether the coffee contained caffeine, leading researchers to question whether the main reason was the caffeine or the act of making, serving or drinking coffee that protects people from death.
For example, making coffee may be a soothing ritual or it could engender more social contact among some people.
Despite the findings, researchers stressed that this study was purely “observational” and could not determine whether or not coffee was the ultimate cause of low mortality.
"Given the observational nature of our study, it is not possible to conclude that the inverse relationship between coffee consumption and mortality reflects cause and effect,” explained Dr Freedman.
"However, we can speculate about plausible mechanisms by which coffee consumption might have health benefits. Coffee contains more than 1000 compounds that might affect the risk of death.”
Dr Euan Paul from The British Coffee Association told HuffPost Lifestyle: “This important research adds to the overwhelming weight of evidence which demonstrates that moderate coffee consumption of 4-5 cups of coffee per day is safe and may be associated with certain health benefits.
“Whilst more research is required to determine whether the inverse association seen in this study is causal, these results are particularly encouraging because they build on previous research which has also suggested an inverse association between coffee consumption and total and cause-specific mortality.”
Not convinced? Take at look at other health benefits of coffee discovered by scientists…
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