People who drink three to five cups of coffee a day – even if it’s decaf – may live longer, according to a study published back in 2015.
While the research was welcomed with cautious optimism, the findings caused waves in the medical profession.
Some experts argued that the link required further investigation, while others warned that the benefits mustn’t be over-played.
“It is important to remember that maintaining a healthy lifestyle is what really matters if you want to keep your heart healthy, not how much coffee you drink,” Emily Reeve, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, told the Telegraph.
Sage advice, no doubt.
But the studies piqued scientists’ interest, with many curious as to the link between coffee and longevity.
Now a new study conducted by researchers at Stanford University reveals that caffeine may reduce an inflammatory mechanism linked to ageing and the chronic diseases that come with it.
The researchers have found that the inflammatory process is triggered by metabolites, the breakdown products of nucleic acids – the building blocks of our genes – circulating in our blood.
Critically, caffeine and its own metabolites may counter the action of our own metabolites, which could be why coffee drinkers tend to live longer.
“More than 90 per cent of all noncommunicable diseases of ageing are associated with chronic inflammation,” said the study’s lead author David Furman, adding that the process contributes to many cancers, Alzheimer’s and other dementias, cardiovascular disease, osteoarthritis and even depression.
“It’s also well-known that caffeine intake is associated with longevity,” Furman said. “Many studies have shown this association. We’ve found a possible reason for why this may be so.”
Before you scrap your New Year’s resolutions in favour of guzzling coffee all day every day, it’s worth bearing in mind the NHS’s advice.
After the last major study into coffee and mortality was released in 2015, a spokesperson said:
“The differences in the chance of death between coffee drinkers and non-coffee drinkers, while statistically significant, are modest, ranging from a 5% to a 9% reduction in risk.
“The study cannot prove cause and effect, and even if it could, the results suggest that daily coffee consumption will do little for your long-term health if your general lifestyle is unhealthy.”