Go make a pot of coffee before you read further. There is good news for coffee drinkers: A large study has found that drinking coffee is associated with a reduced risk of dying from heart disease and certain other causes.
Researchers used data from three large on-going studies, the Nurses' Health Study, the Nurses' Health Study 2, and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. They followed more than 208,000 doctors and nurses for up to 30 years. The participants had periodic physical examinations and also completed questionnaires that asked them about their diet and behavior, including their coffee drinking habits. During the study period, more than 19,500 women and more than 12,400 men died.
Compared with people who never drank coffee, people who drank one to five cups of coffee per day has a lower risk of mortality. Nonsmokers who drank one cup of coffee a day had a 6% reduced risk of death, those who drank one to three cups a day had an 8% reduced risk, those who drank three to five cups day had a 15% reduced risk, and those who drank more than five cups had a 12% reduced risk. Whether they drank caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee made little difference. The association with lower mortality persisted after controlling for age, alcohol consumption, body mass index, and other health and diet factors.
Coffee drinking was linked to a reduced risk of premature death from heart disease, stroke, diabetes, neurological diseases, and suicide, but no reduced risk of death from cancer was seen.
The association between drinking coffee and a reduced risk of premature death was not apparent in people who smoked. This is probably because death from smoking-related causes overwhelms the positive effect of coffee drinking.
While the findings are encouraging, the study is an observational study. The study does not determine if there is a cause-and-effect relationship between drinking coffee and a reduced risk of premature death.
The study was published in the journal Circulation.