Coffee drinkers may be at lower risk of early death – study claims

Coffee drinkers, whether with or without sugar, appear to have a lower risk of dying young, though experts warn that this may not be due to the liquid itself. 

The British Coffee Association estimates that 98 million cups of coffee are consumed per day in the UK, whereas the National Coffee Association estimates that 517 million cups are consumed in the United States. 

Previous research has linked coffee consumption to a lower risk of illnesses ranging from chronic liver disease to certain malignancies and even dementia. 

Now, Chinese researchers have shown that persons who drank a moderate amount of coffee every day, whether sweetened or not, had a decreased risk of dying throughout a seven-year period than those who did not. 

Instant, ground, and decaffeinated coffee produced similar outcomes. 

The study, which was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, is based on data from more than 171,000 UK BioBank participants. Since its inception in 2006, the UK BioBank has collected genetic, lifestyle, and health data from more than 500,000 people, including details of participants’ coffee-drinking habits. 

The researchers followed the individuals for a median of seven years starting in 2009, during which time 3,177 people died. 

After accounting for parameters such as age, sex, ethnicity, educational level, smoking status, quantity of physical activity, body mass index, and diet, the researchers discovered that persons who drank unsweetened coffee had the lowest risk of dying when compared to those who did not. 

Those who drank 2.5 to 4.5 cups per day had the highest reduction in risk of mortality, with a 29 percent lower risk of death. 

Coffee sweetened with sugar was also linked to a lower risk of death, at least for those who consumed 1.5 to 3.5 cups per day. Artificial sweetener users saw a less evident trend. 

The study, on the other hand, only asked participants about their coffee drinking and other habits once and relied on self-reporting. The majority of individuals who used sugar added only a tablespoon to their drink, so it’s unclear if the findings would hold true for high-sugar specialty coffees. 

While the findings were intriguing, Naveed Sattar, a professor of metabolic medicine at the University of Glasgow who was not involved in the research, cautioned that they were not conclusive. 

“Because this new study is observational, these conclusions are far from conclusive,” he stated.

“This is because coffee consumers are generally wealthier and live longer lives than non-drinkers, and I’m still skeptical that these characteristics can be overcome in observational research.” Prof Sattar also stated that there was no genetic evidence linking coffee to any significant health advantages. 

“I would advise people to stick to coffee or tea, preferably without sugar, which most people can adjust to, and to do all the other things we know keep you healthy – move more, eat better, and sleep better,” says the expert. 

Dr Christina Wee, the journal’s deputy editor, concurred that the findings were not conclusive in an accompanying editorial. However, she went on to say that it appeared that drinking coffee, whether unsweetened or with a small quantity of sugar, was probably not detrimental to the majority of people. 

“So drink up – but while more evidence brews, it’d be good to avoid too many caramel macchiatos,” she added.


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