We know there are health downsides to too much caffeine, as well as downsides to our coffee obsession in general (seriously, what is it with housing hot drinks in something other than a mug? FYI ice-cream cones = OK. Avocado skins = no).
But new research claims a rather large health benefit for people who drink one to three cups of coffee a day: living longer.
And it’s also good news for decaf devotees, as the numbers suggest the benefit is not solely down to caffeine – decaffeinated brews seem to have the same effect as caffeinated.
The study, published in Annals of Internal Medicine and using data from almost 200,000 people, found that those who consumed a cup of coffee a day were 12% less likely to die than those who didn’t drink coffee. Those who drank two to three cups a day increased that to 18%.
The numbers came from those taking part in the Multiethnic Cohort Study from the University of Hawaii Cancer Center and the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California.
The project was first funded in 1993, and is a huge, ongoing, ethnically diverse study examining lifestyle risk factors for cancer.
As sciencedaily.com reports, analysis of the self-reported coffee habits of 185,855 study participants over several years revealed drinking coffee was associated with a lower risk of death due to heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes and respiratory and kidney disease – specifically for African-Americans, Japanese-Americans, Latino people and white people.
The data was adjusted for age, sex, ethnicity, smoking habits, education, preexisting disease, vigorous physical exercise and alcohol consumption.
With such a strong showing across ethnicities, Veronica Setiawan, lead author of the study, said it was likely the results applied to other ethnic groups.
“This study is the largest of its kind and includes minorities who have very different lifestyles,” Setiawan said. “Seeing a similar pattern across different populations gives stronger biological backing to the argument that coffee is good for you whether you are white, African-American, Latino or Asian.”
She summed up the results as there being an “association” with coffee and living longer.
“We cannot say drinking coffee will prolong your life, but we see an association. If you like to drink coffee, drink up!
“If you're not a coffee drinker, then you need to consider if you should start.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) recently abandoned its long-held view that coffee was a possible carcinogen, revising its advice to say that regular coffee drinking could reduce the risk of liver and uterine cancer (while pointing out that drinking very hot drinks could contribute to throat cancer).
Then again, lovers of black coffee could be psychopaths, so the risk is yours.