Even More Evidence That Coffee Is Good For You

Coffee lovers around the world have even more reason to rejoice, indulge, and rejoice some more — even more scientific evidence has emerged that coffee is good for your health. According to MSN, the reasons to love coffee are far more than for its flavor. In fact, coffee might not only wake you up, it just might save your life. People who drink regular, moderate amounts of coffee (defined as five cups of java or less) are less likely to die from a large variety of diseases, from diabetes to heart disease. Diabetes and heart disease are two of the biggest killers of people aged 44 years and over, so that is very good news, however, the study also found that even heavy coffee drinking does not offset the harmful effects of cigarette smoking. So enjoy a large cup of joe, but do it without smoking.

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NEW YORK - AUGUST 5: Beverage cups featuring the logo of Starbucks Coffee are seen in the new flagship store on 42nd Street August 5, 2003 in New York City. The Seattle-based coffee company has emerged as the largest food chain in the Manhattan borough of New York with 150 outlets. (Photo by Stephen Chernin/Getty Images)

Frank Hu, a professor from Harvard who helped conduct the research, says the benefits of coffee drinking are immense.

“The main message is that regular consumption, meaning three to five cups of coffee a day, is associated with lower risk in total mortality and mortality from several causes like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and suicide. In previous studies on that issue, most of the coffee was caffeinated coffee. In our study, both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee showed a lower mortality risk but there is no final conclusion yet. In our study, both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee showed a lower mortality risk.”

Hu and his colleagues looked at the coffee consumption habits of 200,000 doctors and nurses over the span of 20 years. Simply put, coffee drinkers were less likely to die over the span of two decades. The benefits were much less for smokers, but non-smoking coffee drinkers were up to 15 percent less likely to die than non-coffee drinkers. Hu said that while it is good news, there are other factors to consider.

“This is good news for people who drink coffee because the evidence is strong. Drinking coffee may be good for health outcomes.”

However, as all researchers know, correlation does not equal causation. Hu said that they found that people who drink coffee are also more likely to smoke, drink alcohol, and eat red meat, all of which have been associated with disease and poor health outcomes. The other problem is that researchers did not separate the people who drank their coffee black from those who drank it with cream and sugar. Hu says by no means are researchers saying coffee is a magic cure that will stop disease development, but it is excellent fodder for further research.

“We are not advocating coffee as a strategy for prevention of the chronic diseases because coffee drinking is individual behavior and there are other factors in the diet that have a bigger effect. People should also be aware of the amount of added sugar to coffee drinks which can become a problem.”

Coffee may protect the brain and spinal cord.
Scientists believe caffeine may somehow protect the nervous system from the effects of MS. [Photo by Nicky Loh/Getty Images for World Animal Protection]

It is known that coffee is the number one source in American diets of antioxidants, the chemical compounds that are responsible for fighting cancerous cell formation and other pathological issues.

It is now known that coffee lessens the risk of development of diabetes, liver cancer, heart disease, and Parkinson’s disease. While the mechanism is still somewhat unknown, the bottom line is that worry about drinking coffee should be permanently put to rest. There is no evidence to support that data, Hu says.

Dr. Sharonne Hayes of the Mayo Clinic, who was not involved in the study, recommended that people heed the findings of the robust study as sound, because the large number of research participants and length of study make it a robust piece of scientific evidence.

“This is probably the best study we are going to get because of the very large numbers, the inclusion of men and women, and the decades of follow-up. The main message is that people who enjoy drinking coffee should not worry about it being harmful for their health. Coffee may actually be beneficial to their health.”

[Featured Image by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]