New grounds for coffee: study shows that it can increase longevity

CHICAGO – Go ahead, drink that cup of coffee, maybe even several more. New research shows that it can increase the chances of a longer life, even for those who lose at least eight cups a day.

In a study of almost half a million British adults, coffee drinkers had a slightly lower risk of death over 10 years than abstainers.

The apparent increase in longevity was observed with instantaneous, ground and decaffeinated results, which echo US research. It is the first large study that suggests a benefit even in people with genetic problems that affect the way their bodies consume caffeine.

In general, coffee drinkers had between 10 and 15% less chance of dying than abstainers during a decade of follow-up. The differences in the amount of coffee consumed and the genetic variations were minimal.

The results do not prove that their coffee maker is a source of youth or a reason for teetotals to start drinking coffee, said Alice Lichtenstein, nutrition expert at Tufts University. who was not involved in the investigation. But he said the results reinforce previous research and add additional comfort for coffee drinkers.

"It's hard to believe that something we enjoy so much could be good for us, or at least not be bad," Lichtenstein said.

The study was published Monday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

It is not clear exactly how coffee consumption can affect longevity. Lead author Erikka Loftfield, a researcher at the US National Cancer Institute. UU. He said that coffee contains more than 1,000 chemical compounds, including antioxidants, that help protect cells from damage.

Other studies have suggested that coffee substances can reduce inflammation and the body uses insulin, which can reduce the chances of developing diabetes. Loftfield said efforts continue to explain the potential benefit of longevity.

Adam Taylor, picking up two ice-cream cafes for his friends on Monday in downtown Chicago, said the study's results make sense.

"Coffee makes you happy, it gives you something we look forward to in the morning," said Taylor, a sound engineer in Las Vegas.

"I try to drink only one cup a day," Taylor said. "Otherwise, I get a little hyperactive."

For the study, the researchers invited 9 million British adults to participate; 498,134 women and men between 40 and 69 years old agreed. The low participation rate means that those involved may have been healthier than the general population of the United States, the researchers said.

Participants completed questionnaires on daily coffee consumption, exercise and other habits, and received physical examinations that included blood tests. Most were coffee drinkers; 154,000 or almost a third drank two to three cups a day and 10,000 drank at least eight cups a day.

Over the next decade, 14,225 participants died, most of them from cancer or heart disease.

Caffeine can cause short-term increases in blood pressure, and some smaller studies have suggested that it could be related to high blood pressure, especially in people with a genetic variation that makes them metabolize caffeine slowly.

But coffee drinkers in the UK study had no greater risk than non-drinkers of dying from heart disease and other causes related to blood pressure. And when all the causes of death were combined, even the slow metabolizers of caffeine had an increase in longevity.

As in previous studies, coffee drinkers were more likely than abstainers to drink alcohol and smoke, but researchers took those factors into account, and coffee drinking seemed to cancel them.

The investigation did not include whether participants drank black coffee or with cream and sugar. But Lichtenstein said that loading coffee with extra fat and calories is not healthy.


Follow AP's medical writer Lindsey Tanner on Twitter: @LindseyTanner.


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