Although coffee has been linked to certain cancers and heart disease, several studies published in recent years have found that the caffeinated drink actually has life-saving benefits. In the latest of the bunch, just published by JAMA Internal Medicine, scientists found that drinking coffee correlated to a longer lifespan — and that those who drank even more seemed to live even longer.
The study, conducted primarily by researchers at the U.S. National Cancer Institute, used data from the U.K. Biobank, which sampled half a million men and women aged 38 to 73 years old. The researchers examined the 14,225 participants who died during the 10-year follow-up period, and found that regularly drinking coffee — in any amount from one to eight cups a day — was negatively correlated with the likelihood of death from all causes.
"We found that people who drank two to three cups per day had about a 12 percent lower risk of death compared to non-coffee drinkers," study author Erikka Loftfield told NPR. This held true even for people with genetic sensitivities to caffeine and also for those who drank decaf only.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, the researchers found that the apparent protective effect actually increased the more coffee a participant drank — the risk of premature death was 16 percent lower among participants who drank six to seven cups per day.
Christopher Gardner — a nutrition studies director at Stanford Prevention Research Center —told NPR that coffee is rich in healthful antioxidants. Gardner surmises that coffee’s reputation became tarnished back when people who drank it were also likely to have been smoking cigarettes. It wasn’t until the negative effects of tobacco became clear that coffee could be seen as beneficial. On the other hand, pay mind to what you’re putting in your java. Unless you enjoy your cup of joe black, you may want to thumb through the healthiest and unhealthiest creamers for your coffee.