Coffee drinkers may live longer

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The largest study of its kind to date has revealed an association between drinking approximately three cups of coffee per day and a lower risk of mortality from any cause during an average follow-up period of 16.4 years. The report was published on July 11, 2017 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The study included 521,330 men and women from 10 countries who were enrolled in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study. Responses to questionnaires and interviews ascertained the amount of coffee consumed and other data.

Over an average 16.4-year follow-up, there were 41,693 deaths. Among men whose intake of coffee was among the top 25%, the risk of all-cause mortality over follow-up was 12% lower than those who did not drink coffee, and for women, the risk was 9% lower. Mortality from digestive diseases was 59% lower for men in the top 25% and 40% lower for women. Women who consumed the highest amount of coffee also benefitted from a 22% lower risk of circulatory disease mortality and a 30% lower risk of cerebrovascular disease mortality compared to nondrinkers.

In a subset of subjects, an association was observed between higher coffee intake and lower liver enzyme levels, and for women, an association was also observed with lower C-reactive protein, lipoprotein(a) and glycated hemoglobin levels. "We found that drinking more coffee was associated with a more favorable liver function profile and immune response," observed lead author Dr. Marc Gunter of the International Agency for Research on Cancer. "This, along with the consistency of the results with other studies in the U.S. and Japan gives us greater confidence that coffee may have beneficial health effects."

"We found that higher coffee consumption was associated with a lower risk of death from any cause, and specifically for circulatory diseases, and digestive diseases," he concluded. "Importantly, these results were similar across all of the 10 European countries, with variable coffee drinking habits and customs. Our study also offers important insights into the possible mechanisms for the beneficial health effects of coffee."

In a related study appearing on July 11 in the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers at the University of Hawaii Cancer Center, the National Cancer Institute and the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California sought to determine the effect of coffee drinking on the risk of mortality among non-Caucasian subjects. By examining data from 185,855 African Americans, Native Hawaiians, Japanese Americans, Latinos and Caucasians enrolled in the Multiethnic Cohort study established from 1993-1996, they uncovered a lower risk of death over a 16.2-year average follow-up among Caucasians as well as non-Caucasians. There was a 12% lower risk of death over follow-up among those who consumed 1 cup of coffee per day in comparison with subjects who did not drink coffee. For those who consumed 2 to 3 cups per day or 4 or more cups per day, the risk of death was 18% lower.

"Coffee contains a lot of antioxidants and phenolic compounds that play an important role in cancer prevention," commented lead author Veronica W. Setiawan. "Although this study does not show causation or point to what chemicals in coffee may have this 'elixir effect,' it is clear that coffee can be incorporated into a healthy diet and lifestyle."

"This study is the largest of its kind and includes minorities who have very different lifestyles," she added. "Seeing a similar pattern across different populations gives stronger biological backing to the argument that coffee is good for you whether you are white, African-American, Latino or Asian."


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