Drinking Coffee Halves Suicide Risk, Study Suggests

A recent study suggests drinking coffee can cut the risk of suicide in half. The news is good for coffee drinkers and could even cause some abstainers to try a sip.

The study comes from Harvard University researchers who reviewed data taken from three large US studies. They compared the risk of suicide for adults who drink between two and four cups of caffeinated coffee per day with those who either drank less or chose decaf instead.

Harvard reports that the coffee-suicide risk study was published in The World Journal of Biological Psychology on July 2. The results of the study aren’t too surprising, since caffeine can stimulate the nervous system and even acts as a mild antidepressant.

It does this by boosting serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline levels in the system, leaving a much more satisfied person. The study’s results could explain the lower risk of suicide among people who drink coffee versus those who don’t. The link has already been seen in past epidemiological studies.

Lead researcher Michel Lucas, a research fellow at Harvard’s Department of Nutrition, stated, “Unlike previous investigations, we were able to assess association of consumption of caffeinated and non-caffeinated beverages, and we identify caffeine as the most likely candidate of any putative protective effect of coffee.”

The Huffington Post notes that the team’s findings aren’t that surprising, and it’s worth noting that the same effect hasn’t been seen in tea or soda drinkers when the beverage contains caffeine. However, that is because they contain a different level of the drug. Lucas explained:

“Caffeine from coffee is about 80 percent caffeine intake. In one cup of coffee, you could have about 140 mg of caffeine. In tea, for example, you have about 47 mg.”

Therefore, someone would need to drink three cups of tea in order to get the same amount of caffeine as one cup of coffee. However, moderation is still important, even when it comes to coffee. The researchers noted that there is little benefit from drinking more than four cups of coffee per day (or about 400 mg of caffeine).

Were you surprised to learn that coffee can halve a person’s risk of suicide?

[Image by Jon Sullivan via Wikimedia Commons]