If you haven’t been fastidiously combing scientific breakthroughs to justify your exorbitant coffee consumption, then let me get you up to date here. At this point in time, coffee’s beneficial aspects need more than your fingers and toes to count, and the latest 411 is that it, overall, can lower the risk of early death.
You’re Pulling My Leg
I swear I’m not. I mean, let’s look at this logically. I said coffee has a number of benefits, right? It’s been proven to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, cirrhosis, liver cancer, Parkinson’s Alzheimer’s, it can reduce pain, lower the risk of depression and suicide, lessen the risk of heart disease, increased fiber intake… I could probably keep listing things for a while, but I think you get the gist. Coffee is a miracle in a mug, and, if you’re aware of all that, it probably isn’t any sort of surprise that coffee just, overall, lowers the risk of early death.
I’m Skeptical. Tell Me More.
You’ve got it! So, here’s the skinny: the University of Southampton and the University of Edinburgh have done a variety of research studies on coffee. In this particular one, they combined data from 201 different observational studies plus 17 clinical trials, inclusive of about 20,000 people, and drew several conclusions. While, yes, there can be other factors that contribute to a lengthier life, such as a Mediterranean diet, as well as behaviors that can shorten life, such as smoking and drinking, the researchers noted these influential aspects when doing their meta-analysis.
The results were fairly clear despite outside influences: those that drank coffee (between 3-4 cups) tended to live longer. It decreased the risk of early death by 17% compared with those that drank none. It was even more prominent in those 45 or older, increasing the odds of a lengthier life by a whopping 30%! I don’t know about you, but I’d do less pleasant things than drink coffee for a 17% decreased risk of early death. And hell knows what I’d do for a 30% decreased risk. So whether you have a fancy home espresso machine or just enjoy drinking instant coffee, you’re already taking steps in the right direction. Keep in mind, though, that the sweet spot is about 4 cups—7 and higher, while still reducing risk of early death by 10%, it doesn’t match the power of a 4-cup plan.
How… Just How?
I can see that you’re finally starting to grasp the implications of this! Welcome to the club. The truth of that particular question isn’t as satisfactory as the percentages in the previous paragraph, though. If you asked a room full of doctors how coffee actually does the deed of reducing the risk of early death, you’d likely receive a unanimous shrugging of white-coated shoulders. The fact of the matter is, like many other scientific discoveries, no one really knows. They just know it does. It’s much the same way if you asked that same room of PhDs why we sleep—the only hard reason is because, well… because we get sleepy. Seriously.
They have several theories, largely related to the high doses of antioxidants found in coffee. One of the thing that scientist have been sorting out in the past several years is that inflammation is really, really not homo sapiens friend. The fountain of youth is likely just filled with something that eliminates inflammation.
I mentioned earlier that coffee can cut pain—it’s often used to alleviate headaches and it can also be used post workout to reduce muscle pain. It helps with the latter by 48%, so set your percolator to run as you’re doing your 10-minute cool down. If you want to read the research on that, it’s right here, but there are a lot of ‘sciencey’ words there, so good luck. The short of it is that it accomplishes the task by reducing inflammation. It’s the same story with headaches. On the other end of the spectrum, caffeine can also trigger migraines, so you know. Be aware.
To even further deepen that correlation, the high consumption of coffee is related to decreased risk of multiple sclerosis. I’ll give you one guess as to why. You’ve got it—reduced inflammation. While inflammation is likely at the heart of coffee’s most beneficial aspects, there are a number of other impressive benefits of coffee that could also be source of its magic.
DNA, the foundation of who we are, can break. The reason for why involves oxidation and several other things that go way beyond what my freshman year biology class taught me (at least from what I remember), but DNA breaking just sounds like a not-good thing (spoiler: it’s not). Some revolutionaries took it upon themselves to test this breakage in people who did and didn’t drink java—in particular, they used dark roast coffee.
The results? People who drank coffee experienced 27% fewer broken DNA strands. Doesn’t that just blow your damn mind? Coffee contributes to DNA integrity. Broken DNA strands can lead to serious issues, like cancer, so the conclusion that this magic bean juice also helps prevent the big C makes even more sense. This is why.
So, I Should Definitely Be Drinking Coffee.
I certainly think so, but coffee, in particular, high consumption of coffee, is not for everyone. Speak to your doctor. Listen to your body. If you’re pregnant or it causes adverse side effects, no, don’t keep guzzling it down. If coffee is already your primary source of power, though, just keep on sippin’, my caffeinated friend. There are so many good things happening behind the scenes and you don’t even have to change your habits to benefit from it. You’re lessening your risk for cancer, reducing inflammation, and livin’ longer. You’re a boss. Just with a little help from coffee and it’s amazing ability to reduce the risk of early death.
About Greg Haver
Hi there, my name is Greg and I’m the creator and editor of CoffeeorBust.com. I’ve been in the coffee business for over a decade, and my goal is to help you make the best cup of coffee with recommended tips, tools, and tricks!