Two large studies have found a link between drinking more coffee and living longer. As always, though, there is not enough evidence yet to definitively support this conclusion.
The studies were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. One looked at 520,000 people, and the other 185,000. Both of those are pretty impressive numbers.
Conducted by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and Imperial College London, the first study found that those who drank coffee (including decaf) had a lower risk of death. This study took place across 10 European countries, and was the largest of its kind.
Three or more cups per day seemed to get the most benefit in this study. The differing countries allowed researchers to gauge differences between countries where coffee consumption varies, from espresso in Italy to cappuccino in the UK.
“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,” said lead author Dr Marc Gunter of the IARC in a statement.
“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.”
The second study, by the University of Southern California, looked at an ethnically diverse group of people. It used data from the Multiethnic Cohort Study, which bills itself as the most ethnically diverse studying examining factors that lead to cancer.
Using this data, researchers found that people who drank one cup of coffee a day were 12 percent less likely to die. Two to three cups increased this to 18 percent.
“Coffee contains a lot of antioxidants and phenolic compounds that play an important role in cancer prevention,” lead author Veronica Setiawan said in a statement.
“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.”
Now, understandably these studies are going to cause some controversy. For one thing, the researchers couldn’t explain why coffee give these perceived benefits, nor could a causal relationship be identified. It may just be that healthier people drink more coffee, for example.
“As there were lots of different analyses for different causes of death and for men and women separately, the risk of finding false positive results is increased,” the Science Media Centre in the UK noted.
For many, caffeine can be a dangerous drug for a number of reasons. So it’s probably not worth downing cups of coffee just yet.