The findings, presented at the European Cardiac Society Congress 2017, are the result of a long-term observational study of nearly 20,000 people in Spain. The average age of participants was 37, and they were followed for about ten years. During that time, 337 participants died. The researchers found that participants who consumed at least four cups of coffee per day had a 64% lower risk of death than those who infrequently or never consumed coffee. They also found a 22% lower risk of death for participants who drank two cups a day.
Lower risk was especially strong for older participants, with two cups a day linked to a 30% reduction in mortality.
“We found an inverse association between drinking coffee and the risk of all-cause mortality, particularly in people aged 45 years and above. This may be due to a stronger protective association among older participants," says Dr. Adela Navarro, study co-author and a cardiologist at Hospital de Navarra in Pamplona, Spain.
That’s the good news. The qualifier is that this was an observational study, and several other factors could come into play. The researchers report that they accounted for factors including age, sex and whether the participants predominantly ate a Mediterranean Diet, which has also been linked to a list of health benefits. The correlation between coffee consumption and lower risk of death appears to stand out, but it’s important to note that it's a correlation - not proof of causation.
Having said that, this study adds to previous research finding promising connections between coffee consumption and improved health. The reasons why are still debatable. Coffee is a rich source of antioxidants (particularly chlorogenic acids), which may exert a protective, anti-inflammatory effect in the body and brain. The more we learn about the dangers of inflammation, the more likely it seems that foods which help reduce it are “life savers” in a not exaggerated sense of the term.
The researchers in the latest study note that the findings are applicable to people who are already generally healthy. The study didn’t find that drinking coffee correlates with reversing existing health problems, but with preserving health. Another large study published in July uncovered a similar correlation, finding that drinking three or more cups a day was associated with lower risk of death from heart disease, stroke and liver disease.
The latest study was presented at the ESC Congress 2017.
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