According to a number of reports in the press “Drinking three to five cups of coffee a day could help people live longer, new research has found”
They state research has shown a link between drinking coffee regularly and a reduced risk of heart disease and some other chronic conditions. It is also suggested decaffeinated coffee had the same effect.
The research was carried out by the Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Indiana University, the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid and the National University of Singapore. It was funded by the US National Institutes of Health.
To be fair the research was the result of three studies involving over 208,000 health professionals over more than 20 years. It found those who drank one to five cups of coffee a day were slightly less likely to have dies at the end of their study compared to people who didn’t drink coffee. People who drank more than five cups a day experienced no difference.
The results changed when smokers were included, possibly because heavy coffee drinking and smoking often go together, so the unhealthy effects of smoking may cancel out any small effects from drinking coffee.
That’s not to say the research didn’t show some benefits for those regular drinkers but the differences in the chance of death between coffee drinkers and non-coffee drinkers weren’t huge, ranging from a 5% to a 9% reduction in risk.
As ever although the results suggest that drinking coffee every day may have some small benefit to your health it won’t do much for your long-term health if your general lifestyle is unhealthy. So don’t smoke, drink alcohol in moderation, eat healthily, take exercise etc. as all these are far more important.
It is worth highlighting that the reduction in risk of death from drinking coffee, at less than 10% relative risk, is pretty small and there are other good reasons why some people might want to avoid caffeine. It’s a stimulant, and can interfere with sleep, especially if you drink it in the evening. It can raise blood pressure for a short time, which can cause problems for people with heart disease. It has also been linked to miscarriage, so pregnant women might want to avoid it.