Live Longer With Coffee

Among the questions I got asked frequently in my practice was this: Is coffee bad for you? Like a lot of things in medicine, the answer isn’t simple. But a recent study supports the fact that this hot beverage that many of us crave in the morning actually could LOWER your risk of death.

In a new study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers followed more than 171,000 participants over seven years. Those who drank any amount of unsweetened coffee were up to 21 percent less likely to die than non-coffee drinkers. And those who drank 1.5 to 3.5 daily cups of coffee sweetened with one teaspoon of sugar were up to 31 percent less likely to die.

This study is actually one of several that shows a reduction in mortality with moderate coffee drinking. And further, the study supports previous findings that show that both cancer and heart disease have lower incidences in coffee drinkers. What makes the study unique is that the number of participants was so large that the researchers were able to look at the different types of coffee and ways of preparing it. It seems that adding the sugar actually improved mortality (this is not a carte blanche to load up with sugar). But artificial sweetener did not seem to improve mortality, if at all. And decaffeinated coffee actually did not do as well as either ground or instant coffee (which were similar in effect), although the positive effects of both imply that caffeine is not the major factor at work.

Readers of my columns might remember that I’ve written about the strong antioxidant content of coffee. It is associated with lower incidences of Parkinson’s Disease, of Diabetes Type 2, and death from strokes. And, it can help with weight loss. Incidentally, drinking black tea may have similar effects.

By the way, if anyone asks I’m partial to a macchiato or black drip coffee in the morning and, on special occasions, a pistachio latte from Starbucks.