Americans drink about 517 million cups of coffee each day, according to the National Coffee Association (opens in a new tab), making it the most popular beverage in the US other than water. Drinking coffee has been associated with a wide range of health benefits. But will it help you live longer?
Many large studies suggest that the biologically active compounds in coffee, including caffeine, can help maintain inflammation, chronic health conditions and even certain cancers. But since correlation doesn’t equal causation, there’s still not enough evidence to say definitively that drinking a morning beer will lead to a longer life.
Because “the data are from retrospective studies [and] there are no randomized trials” there isn’t “really enough strong data to recommend that people drink more coffee,” Dr. Chip Lavie, medical director of cardiac rehabilitation and preventive cardiology at the John Ochsner Institute, told Live Science of New Orleans Heart and Vascular in an email.
That said, what exactly have these large studies found that link coffee consumption to health benefits and a longer lifespan?
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According to a 2018 study published in the journal Advances in Cardiovascular Diseases (opens in a new tab), there are over 1,000 biologically active compounds in coffee. A main component, called chlorogenic acid, improves glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity. This results in improving the body’s ability to process sugar. Insulin sensitivity refers to the sensitivity of the body’s cells in response to insulin. High insulin sensitivity allows the body’s cells to use blood glucose more effectively, lowering blood sugar. A systematic review from 2019 to Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine (opens in a new tab) has shown that these effects reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. A systematic review of nine studies found that people who drank more than six cups of coffee a day had a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to those who drank less than two, according to a 2013 paper in Journal of the American College of Cardiology (opens in a new tab).
Compounds such as melanoids, quinins, lignan and trigonelline have anti-inflammatory effects and are antioxidantsthat is, they prevent or delay damage cells caused by free radicals: unstable molecules produced by the body when it processes food and reacts to environmental pollutants and toxins. Free radicals can cause inflammation and contribute to a number of diseases, including cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases, cataracts and canceraccording to a study published in Review of pharmacognosy (opens in a new tab).
Of coffee drinkers, 84% have their cup of joe with breakfast, according to the National Coffee Association (opens in a new tab), suggesting that most people drink coffee for its caffeine. Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system nervous system blocking signals to the brain that normally slow down its activity. It is also a weak bronchodilator, that is to say, it facilitates breathing by relaxing the muscles of the lungs and widen the airways (bronchi). However, one of the main effects that caffeine has on the body is on the heart. According to the Progress on Cardiovascular Diseases study, “Regular coffee consumption is also associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular (CV) death and a variety of adverse CV outcomes, including coronary heart disease (CHD) [and] congestive heart failure (HF).
This may seem counterintuitive to some people. “Caffeine seems bad as it can increase heart rate i [blood pressure] increases sharply and theoretically [cardiac] rhythm disturbances,” Lavie said. However, most data suggest that regular caffeine use is safe and associated with reductions in cardiovascular disease mortality and even total mortality over a period of decades , he said.
The positive effects of coffee on the heart are well documented, with an impressive body of data. Coffee consumption may be linked to a lower risk of death from heart disease, in part, because the drink may reduce the risk of other health conditions that can lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. According to the Progress on Cardiovascular Diseases study, especially “among people who are genetically predisposed to develop obesityhigher coffee consumption is associated with a lower body mass index,” a metric often used to estimate a person’s body fat percentage. A high BMI can lead to changes in cholesterol and increased blood pressure, both of which increase the risks of cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, and heart failure.
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According to a 2017 study published in the British Medical Journal (opens in a new tab), coffee consumption also reduces the risks of liver scarring (fibrosis and cirrhosis), liver cancer and fatty liver disease (hepatic steatosis). This is because the main primary metabolite of caffeine, paraxanthine, appears to suppress the synthesis of connective tissue growth factor (CTGF), a molecule that plays a role in the development of fibrosis and tumors. The other positive benefits are attributed to the potential antiviral effects of chlorogenic acids and caffeic acid, both found in coffee, according to the British Liver Trust (opens in a new tab).
The Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases study also reported that daily coffee consumption is strongly associated with a lower risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases. Many studies have suggested that Parkinson’s disease (PD) is less common in people who drink coffee compared to those who don’t, although the reason is still unclear, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (opens in a new tab). A meta-analysis of 26 studies in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (opens in a new tab) suggested that regular caffeine consumption is associated with approximately a 25% lower risk of Parkinson’s disease (opens in a new tab)although the exact risk reduction varied between reports.
The same study cites “an increasingly impressive and consistent body of data” that daily coffee drinkers have a 7% to 12% increased risk of premature death compared to non-coffee drinkers. Citing a 2005 study published in the journal JAMA (opens in a new tab)that followed 521,330 adults for an average of 16 years, people in the study who drank at least three cups of coffee a day had a significantly lower risk of dying from any cause in that time period.
Other studies have linked coffee with increased life expectancy. In two large 2017 studies, for example, one from the US and the other from Europe, researchers found that drink caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee each day was less likely to die over a period of about 16 years, compared to people who didn’t drink coffee, Live Science previously reported.
These meta-analyses showing the health benefits of coffee typically “adjust for a large number of potential confounders, including education, lifestyle (smoking, alcohol, physical activity), dietary factors, and BMI,” according to the British Medical Journal report. . Lavie commented, “Most of the benefits of coffee appear to be statistically independent [of other health and lifestyle factors] but it’s hard to statistically correct for everything.”
The only lifestyle factor that bucks the trend is smoking. “Heavy smokers tend to drink more coffee,” Lavie said.
The coffee shop
However, these findings come with a big caveat: Although some studies indicate that coffee is associated with a lower risk of death, it does not necessarily mean that drinking coffee promotes a longer lifespan.
In a 2020 study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (opens in a new tab), researchers investigated whether drinking coffee and tea would affect the chances of study participants living into their 90s. In other words, the study assessed whether drinking coffee actually increases longevity, rather than merely reducing the likelihood of developing diseases that can kill. The study looked at more than 27,000 women aged 65 to 81 and took into account a number of health and lifestyle factors that could also affect the risk of death in these participants, including a history of illness, smoking , body mass index and their race and ethnicity.
The researchers found that “no amount of coffee consumption was associated with survival to age 90 among older women, suggesting that coffee consumption is not associated with longevity,” lead author Aladdin H. Shadyab, assistant professor at the University of California, San. Diego Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science, told Live Science.
This study, however, is not without limitations. For example, the study can’t say whether these findings extend to men, and it doesn’t address the potential benefits of drinking coffee earlier in life. “It is possible that coffee consumption is associated with a lower risk of mortality in the first stage of life, but, conditional on survival to an older age such as 65 years, it is not associated with longevity,” they write the study authors. So drinking coffee could reduce your chance of dying in your 50s and thus making it less likely to live to 60. However, once you reach 60, drinking coffee doesn’t seem to affect whether you survive to 90.
So, should you be drinking more coffee to try and extend your life? Lavie said more evidence is needed before coffee can be recommended as a life-extending elixir. However, not drinking coffee can mean missing out on the health benefits of caffeine, antioxidants and other biologically active compounds in the drink. Also, because of the “reductions in cardiovascular disease mortality and some even in total mortality,” Lavie said, “the data is good enough to let people know that it’s very safe to drink coffee , even several cups a day, and it can even be It’s beneficial to drink a few cups instead of no coffee at all.”
This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide medical advice.
Originally published in Live Science.
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