Coffee drinkers were less likely to die from heart disease,respiratory disease, stroke, injuries and accidents, diabetes, andinfections, although the association was not seen for cancer. Theseresults from a large study of older adults were observed afteradjustment for the effects of other risk factors on mortality, suchas smoking and alcohol consumption. Researchers caution, however,that they can't be sure whether these associations mean thatdrinking coffee actually makes people live longer. The results ofthe study were published in the May 17, 2012 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine. |
Neal Freedman, Ph.D., Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics,NCI, and his colleagues examined the association between coffeedrinking and risk of death in 400,000 U.S. men and women ages 50 to71 who participated in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study.Information about coffee intake was collected once by questionnaireat study entry in 1995-1996. The participants were followed untilthe date they died or Dec. 31, 2008, whichever came first. The researchers found that the association between coffee andreduction in risk of death increased with the amount of coffeeconsumed.
Relative to men and women who did not drink coffee, thosewho consumed three or more cups of coffee per day had approximatelya 10 percent lower risk of death. Coffee drinking was notassociated with cancer mortality among women, but there was aslight and only marginally statistically significant association ofheavier coffee intake with increased risk of cancer death amongmen. "Coffee is one of the most widely consumed beverages inAmerica, but the association between coffee consumption and risk ofdeath has been unclear. We found coffee consumption to beassociated with lower risk of death overall, and of death from anumber of different causes," said Freedman.
"Although wecannot infer a causal relationship between coffee drinking andlower risk of death, we believe these results do provide somereassurance that coffee drinking does not adversely affecthealth." The investigators caution that coffee intake was assessed byself-report at a single time point and therefore might not reflectlong-term patterns of intake. Also, information was not availableon how the coffee was prepared (espresso, boiled, filtered, etc.);the researchers consider it possible that preparation methods mayaffect the levels of any protective components in coffee. "The mechanism by which coffee protects against risk of death-- if indeed the finding reflects a causal relationship -- is notclear, because coffee contains more than 1,000 compounds that mightpotentially affect health," said Freedman. "The moststudied compound is caffeine, although our findings were similar inthose who reported the majority of their coffee intake to becaffeinated or decaffeinated.".
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