To Live Longer, Drink More Coffee

Being an adult has a few downsides, such as a receding hairline, more jiggling when jogging, and, you know, being that much closer to dead.

But it also offers compensations.

As a kid, I vividly remember that adulthood seemed to be defined by coffee. My parents both drank copious coffee from the percolator.

My mother at age 86 is still going strong with two or three cups each day.

True to form, I typically drink three cups of coffee daily.

And now, I am delighted to report that according to at least some research, the key to making this daily habit more healthful for Mom and me is to…

Drink more coffee.

The Coffee-Longevity Connection

In 2012, a big study in The New England Journal of Medicine showed that coffee drinkers lived longer than abstainers. 1

(I’m not kidding about “big.” This info was taken from the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study and included more than 400,000 participants.)

What was especially remarkable was what physicians call the “dose response.”

As it turns out, there was an almost perfect correlation — the more coffee the subjects drank, they less likely they were to die.

This, obviously, can’t go on indefinitely or continually chugging café noir would make one immortal. But men who drank a hefty six or more cups of coffee daily were 10 percent less likely to die over the course of the study than the java-rejecting controls.

And six-cups-daily women fared even better. They were 15 percent less likely to die.

To be clear, that’s less likely to die of almost anything.

As the research team put it, “Coffee appeared to be inversely associated with most major causes of death in both men and women, including heart disease, respiratory disease, stroke, injuries and accidents, diabetes, and infections.”

Only cancer seemed to be left out: There was a small, “borderline” association between coffee drinking with lower cancer risk in men. No advantage at all was seen for women.

Especially interesting — these healthy effects were seen whether the joe-chuggers drank regular or decaf.

This suggests coffee’s life-extending benefits may be due to a combination of compounds including chlorogenic acid — also found in potatoes, peaches, and prunes.

Chlorogenic acid appears to blunt blood sugar surges that can happen after meals — suggesting one gets the most benefit from coffee then. 2

But it’s likely even more complex than that. Coffee contains over 1,000 compounds, any one of which might affect health status.

In nutrition science, it’s very tough to tease out which compound makes a whole food healthy. Better off just to consume the food.

So I believe I’ll have another cup.

Brad Lemley
Editor, Natural Health Solutions


[1] Freedman, N. D., Y. Park, C. C. Abnet, A. R. Hollenbeck, and R. Sinha. “Association of Coffee Drinking with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality.” New England Journal of Medicine 366, no. 20 (May 17 2012): 1891-904

[2] Kempf K, Herder C, Erlund I, et al. Effects of coffee consumption on subclinical inflammation and other risk factors for type 2 diabetes: a clinical trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010

Brad Lemley

Written By Brad Lemley

Brad Lemley is a science and health writer and former senior correspondent for The Washington Post and Discover magazine. He is a tireless advocate for safe, natural, self-directed healthy living practices and therapies.

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