Study: Coffee may improve life expectancy

by Eric Schroeder
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ROCKVILLE, MD. — Drinking two to three cups of coffee a day may reduce the risk of dying by as much as 10%, according to a study from the National Cancer Institute that was published on-line in the May 16 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

The study examined the association of coffee drinking with subsequent total and cause-specific mortality among 229,119 men and 173,141 women in the National Institutes of Health — AARP Diet and Health Study between 1995 and 2008. The participants were between the ages of 50 to 71 at the time of the study and exhibited no signs of cancer, heart disease or stroke. Coffee consumption was assessed once at baseline.

Of the approximately 402,000 participants, about 42,000 said they drank no coffee and about 15,000 said they drank six or more cups a day. Most people said they drank about two or three cups each day.

Researchers found that women who drank four or five cups a day had a 16% lower risk of death, while men who drank that much had a 12% lower risk. Women who drank six or more cups had a 15% lower risk of death, while men had a 10% lower risk.

Even drinking a single cup had a positive effect, the researchers said, as women drinking one cup lowered their risk by 5% and men by 6%.

By 2008, approximately 52,000 of the participants had died.

“In this large prospective study, coffee consumption was inversely associated with total and cause-specific mortality,” the researchers concluded. But they cautioned that whether this was a causal or associational finding “cannot be determined from our data.”

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