Coffee drinkers may live longer, finds new study

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Office drones self-conscious about their many furtive trips to the kitchen can relax; it’s official – drinking coffee is good for you. Smug sips, everyone.

Research released this week suggests that coffee drinkers may live longer than their caffeine-avoiding counterparts. The study was conducted by the US National Cancer Institute (NCI) using data from half a million UK volunteers and published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

The study followed 500,000 British adults and found that the coffee fans among them were at a slightly lower risk of death over the 10-year follow-up period. This tendency proved to be broadly true for both extremes of the spectrum – those who were drinking as many as eight cups a day felt the benefit, as did those who were mainly drinking decaffeinated coffee.

NCI researchers took their data from the UK Biobank, a health charity that collected detailed medical information from a cross-section of people aged between 40 and 69 from 2006 to 2010. Volunteers across the UK involved in the project provided samples of saliva, urine and blood and answered medical questions about their general health, lifestyle and family history. This information has been made available to vetted health researchers around the world.

14,225 participants in the study have died since giving their information, with researchers categorising their causes of death into different groups: cancer, cardiovascular disease or respiratory disease. Using this analysis, the NCI argue a possible link between coffee drinking and a lower risk of death.

Genetic data was also considered in the study. Previous research has shown that there’s a genetically informed difference in how quickly an individual body metabolises caffeine. Interestingly, however, there seemed to be no correlation between rates of caffeine metabolisation and the slight increase in life expectancy.

This latest piece of research comes as further good news for caffeine addicts. Other similar studies have suggested that coffee helps to reduce inflammation and regulate insulin production, which might reduce an individual’s susceptibility to developing diabetes.

While this study is promising news and helps bolster the argument that coffee can indeed be part of a healthy diet, some experts urge caution. They note that the data used in the study was not collected specifically to ascertain the relationship between coffee intake and mortality – therefore other self-reported lifestyle factors (such as diet, smoking, alcohol use and exercise) have not been reliably screened.

It is not generally recommended that people drastically increase their coffee drinking as a result of this study. You can probably reach – guilt-free – for that fourth cup you were going to have anyway, though.

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