Many of us joke that we can’t live without our morning coffee. But a pair of new studies suggests that drinking coffee is associated with longer life and lower instances of cancer or chronic disease.
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Does this mean you should drink an extra-large macchiato with caramel and extra whip every morning? No. It’s important to note that the researchers say only their results show an intriguing association. More research is necessary to find out why, they say. And those add-ons can submarine your healthy eating efforts.
One cup a day
Result of both studies recently appeared in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.
In one study, researchers from University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine surveyed more than 185,000 African-Americans, Native Americans, Hawaiians, Japanese-Americans, Latinos and whites over a 16-year period.
They found that people who consumed one cup of coffee a day were 12 percent less likely to die during the study period compared to those who didn’t drink coffee. Coffee lovers who drank two to three cups a day reduced their chances of death by 18 percent and had lower instances of cancer or chronic diseases.
The effects were present whether people drank regular or decaffeinated coffee, suggesting that caffeine is not the only cause, the researchers say.
More of coffee’s potential beneficial effects
In the second study, scientists analyzed data from more than half a million people across 10 European countries, including the United Kingdom, to explore the effect of coffee consumption on risk of mortality.
Results showed that higher levels of coffee consumption were associated with a reduced risk of death from all causes, particularly from circulatory diseases and diseases related to the digestive tract.
The second study is the largest analysis to date of the effects of coffee-drinking in a European population.
Consistent with some previous studies
The results of the two studies are consistent with what some previous studies have found about coffee drinkers, says Michael Roizen, MD, a wellness expert at Cleveland Clinic. Dr. Roizen did not take part in the study.
Previous studies looking for a link between coffee consumption and health outcomes have revealed conflicting results. However, large studies in the United States and Japan have since revealed a possible beneficial effect of drinking coffee on risk of death from all causes.
Previous research also has connected coffee consumption with a decreased risk for developing Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases as well as improved control of type 2 diabetes.
“Those people lived longer and had decreased immune dysfunction, decreased cancer rates, decreased cardiovascular disease rates, decreased liver dysfunction and decreased immune dysfunction,” Dr. Roizen says.
Drink it black
The key to getting all of coffee’s purported benefits, however, is to not drink it with high-calorie, high-fat add-ons such as cream and sugar, sugary flavored syrups or whipped cream, Dr Roizen says.
“The things you want to avoid: added sugar, added syrups, and, of course, added cream,” Dr. Roizen says. “So drink your coffee black, whether it’s decaf or not.”
The good news is that most people are fast metabolizers, meaning that they usually suffer no ill effects from drinking coffee, Dr. Roizen says.
People who are slower metabolizers can experience headaches, irregular heart beat and gastric upset after drinking coffee. If this is you, it might be best to skip that morning cup of joe.