Coffee consumption reduces mortality

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine has indicated that drinking coffee reduces risk of death. The study followed over 400,000 healthy older people from 1995 to 2008 in an attempt to define the effects of coffee consumption on average lifespan, which has long been considered uncertain.

At the start of the study, potential participants were excluded if they had already suffered a stroke or heart attack, as it was thought that chronic conditions could skew results. The people followed up by researchers were aged between 50 and 71. Their daily coffee intake was recorded and the study researchers then followed participants over the next 13 years to assess their risk of death.

According to the study author, Dr Neal Freedman, “there was an inverse association between coffee drinking and the risk of death overall…it was a modest association, and at the top categories (that is, about six cups a day) of coffee drinking, there was only a 10% to 15% reduction in the risk of dying during follow-up.”

Men and women had similar positive results; for both genders, mortality risk fell as coffee intake increased, though this correlation weakened when intake exceeded 2-3 cups a day. In his research, Dr. Freedman examines the relationship between coffee consumption and drug and alcohol abuse. As well as this researchers are investigating how caffeine affects cardiac and vascular physiology. Such investigations seem particularly relevant to assessment of the Western lifestyle, which conjures up images of commuters struggling through the day on a drip-feed of coffee.

Further research will assess how caffeine affects human physiology; studies in the past have yielded conflicting data. In any event, Freedman’s result should reassure many a caffeine addict – drink up, it may even be good for you!



About Sophie McManus

Sophie is a third year undergraduate studying Biomedical Sciences at Magdalen.