“My life depends on my morning cup of coffee” has a whole new meaning. Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers recently came out with a study that states that drinking a few cups of a coffee a day appears to reduce the risk of suicide in men and women by 50 percent.
Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system (hence why you feel so jittery at your desk when you drink so much java before work), but also may act as a mild antidepressant by boosting serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline. The reserachers believe that a boost of seratonin, dopamine, and nodrenaline would also result in a boost of happiness, or a reduction in risk of depression among coffee drinkers.
In the study, researchers examined 43,599 men enrolled in the Health Professionals Follow-Up study (from 1988 to 2008), 73,820 women in the Nurses Health Study (from 1992 to 2008), and 91,005 women in the Nurses Health Study II (from 1993 to 2007). Caffeinated coffee, decaffeinated coffee, and caffeine in general (chocolate, tea, soft drinks, etc.) were all taken note of every four years. Coffee made up for 80 percent of the caffeine intake- no surprise there.
From the three groups, it was found that adults who drank two to four cups of caffeinated coffee a day had half the risk of suicide than those who drank decaffeinated, very little, or no coffee. Among the entire group of people, 277 deaths were from suicide.
"Unlike previous investigations, we were able to assess association of consumption of caffeinated and non-caffeinated beverages, and we identify caffeine as the most likely candidate of any putative protective effect of coffee,” said lead researcher Michal Lucas, research fellow in the Department of Nutrition at HSPH.
However, authors of the study don’t advise that depressed adults increase caffeine consumption because most people adjust their intake to a level that work for them. Therefore, a rapid increase could potentially result in unwanted side effects.