Rejoice coffee drinkers! A new study has found that drinking a moderate amount of joe significantly reduces a person’s risk for a number of chronic health conditions and could lead to longer life.
“In our study, we found people who drank three to five cups of coffee per day had about a 15 percent lower [risk of premature] mortality compared to people who didn’t drink coffee,” says one of the study authors, nutrition researcher Walter Willett of the Harvard School of Public Health. The study also found that Decaf drinkers also saw similar benefits.
The findings of the large-scale study were published Monday in the journal Circulation. The study included 167,944 women from the Nurses’ Health Study and Nurses’ Health Study 2 and also looked at data on 40,557 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study.
The researchers tracked study participants for 30 years and collected data on their daily coffee consumption through food questionnaires.
Coffee drinkers are more likely to consume alcohol and smoke cigarettes, so the researchers opted to repeat the analysis after eliminating smokers from the data pool. The results of this re-analysis demonstrated that nonsmokers who drank moderate amounts of coffee had a 15 percent lower risk for all-cause mortality.
The researchers didn’t find any statistical differences in rates of diseases among participants who drank caffeinated versus decaffeinated coffee. This suggests there is an active component other than caffeine in the beverage that provides some productive benefit. Coffee is a rich source of antioxidants and B vitamins. The authors of the new study suggest that certain compounds present in coffee—including chlorogenic acid, lignans, quinides, trigonelline and magnesium—may have an anti-inflammatory effect and reduce insulin resistance. But more studies are needed to confirm coffee’s observed protective effect.
“Results from this and previous studies indicate that coffee consumption can be incorporated into a healthy lifestyle,” the researchers write in their study.
Newsweek also points out that a number of studies have found that excessive coffee consumption may have some adverse side effects.
Another study, published in 2013 in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, suggests that coffee may actually be associated with an increased mortality. That two-decades-long study involved nearly 50,000 participants and found that men who drank more than 28 cups of coffee each week—four each day—had a higher mortality rate. The association between coffee consumption and increased mortality was also observed in men and women under 55.
The researchers in the new study point out their findings do have some limitations. “Given the observational nature of the study design, we could not directly establish a cause-effect relationship between coffee and mortality,” the researchers write. They also point out that the study participants—all health and medical professionals and predominantly white—may not reflect coffee’s effects on a more diverse general population.