Coffee is one of the most consumed beverages on the planet.
In fact, each day there are about 1.4 billion cups of coffee prepared around the world.
With so many people drinking the dark brew, researchers have long been interested in the health effects coffee has on regular drinkers.
Is Coffee Healthy?
Throughout the years coffee has been said to stunt growth, increase blood pressure, increase risk of heart attacks, increase risk of urinary tract cancer, and has even been linked to lung cancer (likely due to the common practice of smoking cigarettes while drinking coffee).
More recent studies have also shown that a cup-o-joe can decrease risk of liver cancer, reduce risk of stroke and prostate cancer, and actually lower risk of heart failure.
With so much conflicting information it has remained largely unclear what the true health effects of the beverage truly are.
The Largest Study to Date
The Annals of Internal Medicine has recently published two large studies – one from the U.S. and the other from the U.K. – examining the correlation between coffee consumption and overall mortality.
The British study is the largest study to date examining the health effects of coffee. The Imperial College of London and the UN International Agency for Research on Cancer, followed 520,000 people in 10 countries for a total of 16 years.
What the researchers found is that those who drank three or more cups of brew a day had a lower risk of death of mortality than people who did not drink any. Men saw the most benefit, with those who drank three cups per day being 18% less likely to die than the men who drank none. Women who drank the brew saw a smaller, but still considerable benefit of an 8% reduced rate of mortality.
Study co-author Dr. Mark Gunter of the IARC explained that the research “found higher coffee consumption was associated with a lower risk of death from any cause, and specifically for circulatory diseases, and digestive diseases.
“We looked at multiple countries across Europe, where the way the population drinks coffee and prepares coffee is quite different.
“Importantly, these results were similar across all 10 European countries, with variable coffee drinking habits and customs.
“Our study also offers important insights into the possible mechanisms for the beneficial health effects of coffee.
“The fact that we saw the same relationships in different countries is kind of the implication that it’s something about coffee rather than it’s something about the way that coffee is prepared or the way it’s drunk,” he said.
The American Study
The University of Southern California found strikingly similar results in their slightly smaller study that tracked 186,000 people over 16 years. Their research found that Americans who consumed one cup a day were 12% less likely to die than those who drank none at all.
To further bolster the British research, the American study also found that those who drank three cups a day had an 18% less chance of death than their coffee abstinent counterparts.
Researchers determined that the coffee drinkers had healthier better glucose control and healthier liver function than the non drinkers.
What About Decaf?
Interestingly, both studies found that the results were consistent in both decaf and caffeinated coffee drinkers.
This has led the researchers to determine that it is likely the antioxidant polyphenol compounds found in the coffee, instead of the caffeine, that are responsible for the possible health benefits.
However, the research is still not conclusive.
“We are not at the stage of recommending people to drink more or less coffee,” Dr. Gunter warns. “Our results suggest that moderate coffee drinking — up to around three cups per day — is not detrimental, and that incorporating coffee into your diet could have health benefits.”