The debate over whether coffee drinkers enjoy less risk of untimely death over those who do not drink coffee has been waged for many years. Studies go back and forth either negating the value of coffee or announcing that there is a correlation to long life and coffee drinking.
The main question asked is whether coffee drinking lowers the risk of death for individuals and what is considered moderate consumption.
What is considered “moderation?”
Doctors and nutritionists both like to tell people to drink coffee in moderation. The key though is figuring out what is moderate? In some studies 1 to 3 cups is moderate, whereas in other studies as many as 6 cups in the norm. This is a rather subjective measurement of moderation that is currently hotly debated.
Is there a direct link between coffee and cancer?
The National Cancer Institute performed a study that found that men and women who drink 2-3 cups per day enjoy a reduction in cancer cases: 10% of men and 15% of women have an increased change of living longer than those who don’t drink coffee. The study also looked at ailments that can be secondary to cancer such as heart disease, diabetes, and respiratory illnesses.
The study was conducted via observation which based its findings on rates of death between coffee drinkers and non-coffee drinkers.
Long-term studies find no specific correlation between death rates and coffee drinkers’ life expectancy.
Another study that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, which consisted of data that was self-reported among 402,260 men and women who were members of the AARP from 1995 to 1996.
Individuals reported that they drank on average 6 cups per day. Data was collected over the next 13 years regarding death rates among the participants in the study. The male coffee drinkers had a death rate 10% lower and women coffee drinkers were at 15% lower death rate.
There does not appear to be a difference in longevity between men and women, yet there is no discernible way to know if pre-existing health issues matter as much as gender differences may such as hormonal differences, physical activity, or other such key differences between genders. Perhaps that will be examined in still another study on coffee.
The study found no correlation between coffee drinking and specific types of illness because the cause of death among the participants was as much due to illnesses as it was to chance (i.e. accidents)
Is there a relation between coffee consumption and strokes?
Yet another study by the European Society of Hypertension examined consumption of 1-3 cups of coffee per day. This study was done via Meta -analysis, which is a cross analysis of similar studies to find if a correlation exists.
The European Society of Hypertension wanted to see if there is any relation between coffee drinking and strokes. The data showed that among participants in the various studies 1-3 cups per day was associated with lower risks of strokes. It should be noted however that the study was conducted on the general population rather than a more narrow focus on people who have cardiovascular disease.
Although there is a difference of opinion of what moderate consumption of coffee actually is, there is an apparent link between coffee and lower risks of death. Coffee contains as many as 100 different components that can vary from bean type, roasting and brewing processes so it is difficult to know what it is in coffee that seems to help people live longer lives.
But, it can be fairly stated that coffee that is consumed in whatever measure of moderation is not actually bad for most people’s health.
Chase Walters is an author and avid, beginning traveler who is still getting his feet wet – he recently took a trip with Body Glove Hawaii, which turned out to be an incredible, eye-opening experience.
Photo by takuya miyamoto*.