- By Fiza Pirani, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The list of health benefits of drinking coffee continues to grow longer.
To understand whether heavy coffee consumption is linked to an increased risk of mortality, researchers from Maryland and Illinois assessed demographic, lifestyle and genetic data on 9.2 million individuals from across the United Kingdom, part of the population-based study known as the UK Biobank.
Of the 502,641 participants who consented with baseline data, 498,134 (aged 38-73) with complete data on coffee intake and smoking status (and those who weren’t pregnant) were included in the study.
Over 10 years of follow up between 2006-2016, researchers found the risk of death from any cause declined as participant coffee consumption increased.
In fact, those drinking two to three cups per day, decaffeinated or not, had a 12 percent lower risk of death compared to non-drinkers, National Cancer Institute research fellow Erikka Loftfield told NPR.
Folks drinking eight or more cups had a 14 percent lower risk of death.
These associations were similar for both ground and instant coffee as well and there was no significant difference in risk for people with genetic variants for slower or faster caffeine metabolism.
Researchers noted that coffee beans — not caffeine — may be behind this longevity boost.
"My guess is that they're working together to have some of these benefits," Harvard researcher Walter Willett, who authored a similar study that found a link between coffee consumption and lower risk of early death, told NPR in 2015. “The coffee bean itself is loaded with many different nutrients and phyto-chemicals,” many of which aid in insulin resistance and inflammation reduction.
But that doesn’t mean we should all start drinking more coffee.
“At this point, the study provides reassurance to coffee drinkers, not guidance,” Loftfield told the New York Times. “The results don’t indicate that people should begin drinking coffee for its health benefits.”