REPORT: Coffee Consumption Linked To Improved Mortality Rates
Coffee is undoubtedly one of the world’s most popular drinks. We consume around 2.25 billion cups a day and it’s an intrinsic ritual for many us trying to rouse our weary brains from the previous nights slumber. With such large quantities being consumed it’s hardly surprising that coffee has had its fair share of press over recent years. We frequently hear about both the positive and negative effects it can have on our health, and often we get contradictory information and reports.
One of the primarily ingredients, caffeine is generally perceived to have a negative impact on our general health and wellbeing, supposedly affecting conditions like insomnia and hypertension.
Whereas other compounds like anti-oxidants are generally considered good for us. Previous research has shown that coffee can have an inverse effect on inflammation and insulin resistance.
The data is often conflicting and many existing studies have failed to draw any significant conclusions based on relatively small sample groups. Research published in the New England Journal Of Medicine (1) has addressed part of the problem by examining over 400,000 individuals and the overall affect coffee consumption has on mortality rates.
229,119 men and 173,141 women were part of the study that took place from 1995 to 2008. During this period a recorded total of 52,000 deaths occurred. The sample groups were aged between 50–71 years and all participants completed questionnaires that examined dietary habits including their coffee consumption.
Groups that had pre=existing conditions including cancer, heart disease and strokes were excluded from the data. Additional health related risks were taken into consideration when compiling the data with a specific emphasis on smoking.
79% drank ground coffee, 19% instant, 1% espresso and a further 1% didn’t specify.
- Female coffee drinkers were two thirds less likely to have diabetes.
- Men who drank more than 6 cups of coffee a day had a 10% lower risk of death.
- Women who drank more than 6 cups of coffee a day had a 15% lower risk of death.
- Overall inverse associations were noted with coffee consumption and major causes of death with the exception of cancer.
The large study showed significant inverse associations of coffee consumption with deaths from all causes and specifically with deaths due to heart disease, respiratory disease, stroke, injuries and accidents, diabetes, and infections.
Further research will be needed to determine the reason for the decreased mortality rates in coffee drinkers. One hypothesis is that the 1,000 compounds found in coffee may have a positive impact on our health.
Areas to consider were that coffee consumption was recorded at the time of the questionnaire and drinking patterns may change over time. However the results are compelling and seem to show that drinking coffee doesn’t have such negative impact on our health that some previous reports have highlighted.
About the author: Nick Huxsted is an independent writer who’s interested in biology and the effects coffee has on the body. He currently writes for coffee roaster Joe Black Coffee in Liverpool and is a regular contributor to Hip & Healthy.
(1) – Neal D. Freedman, Ph.D., Yikyung Park, Sc.D., Christian C. Abnet, Ph.D., Albert R. Hollenbeck, Ph.D., and Rashmi Sinha, Ph.D.
N Engl J Med 2012; 366:1891-1904, May 17th 2012, DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1112010