The health benefits of coffee have long been debated. A new study, however, strove to make the connection between coffee and health more than just anecdotal.
Researchers found that a total consumption of coffee–decaffeinated or not–was associated with a lower risk of mortality. In other words, those who drank coffee had a decreased risk of dying from heart disease, diabetes, brain complications and suicide.
“This study was really interesting because it found that there is a mortality benefit for those who drink one to five cups of coffee a day,” explained Jack Perkins, M.D., emergency medicine physician at Carilion Clinic. “It’s not additive though, so if you drink one cup of coffee, you still get the same benefit as those who drink four or five.”
The researchers studied several large groups of people, totaling 208,500 men and women over three decades. Every four years, participants were surveyed on their drinking habits and health, and by the end of the study, the researchers reported the positive relationship between coffee consumption and longevity.
The findings also isolated smokers and non-smokers, finding that coffee benefited both groups, but the health benefits were more pronounced among non-smokers.
As with all correlational studies, coffee consumption can only be linked to increased longevity–not necessarily causing it. Researchers argue, however, that their findings lead to an increased need for additional research in the future.
While more definitive findings may surface later down the road, today's coffee drinkers can feel a little better about that extra cup they need to get them through the morning.