Our daily fix of coffee isn’t just an excuse to squander £30 a week on takeaway lattes – it may actually be prolonging our lives, too.
While common belief has it that lots of caffeine is bad for us, a major new study presented at the European Cardiac Society Congress 2017 this week indicates that a vociferous appetite for coffee can have a significant impact on life expectancy.
Researchers based at Hospital de Navarra in Pamplona, Spain, tracked the lives of around 20,000 people aged in their mid-30s for ten years, to examine the link between coffee drinking and decreased mortality.
Their results are nothing short of astonishing: they found that participants who drank four cups of the good stuff a day had a 64% lower risk of death compared to those who infrequently or never consumed coffee.
Those who drank at least two cups of coffee a day, meanwhile, had a 22% lower risk of premature death. The relationship between coffee and mortality was particularly pronounced with the onset of ageing, researchers said.
The researchers took into account variables such as age, sex and whether the participants followed a Mediterranean diet – a lifestyle factor that is also associated with health benefits – in recording the results.
They emphasised that their study highlighted a correlation between coffee and life expectancy, rather than a specific causal role. Nevertheless, the figures are eye-opening in their persuasiveness.
“I would advise drinking plenty of coffee, it could be good for your heart. I think it's a good idea to have about four cups a day,” says the study’s co-author and cardiologist Dr. Adela Navarro. “I think it's the polyphenols [an antioxidant chemical], they have an anti-inflammatory effect.”
She notes that the four cups rule “can be part of a healthy diet in healthy people”.
This latest study backs up findings from US-based research published last month in the Annals Of Internal Medicine.
Analysis of the self-reported coffee habits of 185,855 study participants over several years revealed that drinking coffee was associated with a lower risk of death due to heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes and respiratory and kidney disease across a range of ethnic groups.
“If you're not a coffee drinker, then you need to consider if you should start,” advised lead author Veronica Setiawan.
So, the next time you guiltily skulk out for your fifth flat white of the day, shrug off that shame – you’re merely extending your life span. And who can argue with that?
Photos: iStock, Rex