Sometimes to delve into the unknown can give one the comfort one needs, especially if you happen to be a coffee addict. It seems that whether you like a trendy flat white or prefer decaf, it’s news that should have you full of beans. People who drink 6 cups of coffee a day are 16% less likely to die early, a study found. The reduced risk was discovered to be similar for all types of coffee – including instant, decaffeinated or ground – suggesting the benefits are not linked to caffeine.
Scientists believe that natural anti-oxidants found in the plant’s compounds can help to protect against some cancers and cardiovascular disease. US researchers looked at the mortality rates of almost half a million Britons over 10 years in relation to their coffee intake. Generally, the more cups people drink, the lower their chances of dying sooner from those diseases. This peaked at between 6 and 7 cups, where rates fell by a sixth compared to those who never drink coffee. But even those who drink twice the recommended amount of 4 cups a day saw their chances of dying early reduced by 14%, according to the researchers from the National Cancer Institute in Maryland.
Coffee has overtaken tea as Britain’s favourite drink with an estimated 55 million cups consumed every day. The European Food Safety Agency advises that people drink no more than 4 cups a day, saying those who do run the risk of anxiety, sleeplessness, heart rhythm disturbances or heart failure. Yet the US findings suggest the health benefits extend to the decaffeinated variety without the pitfalls of coffee. The protective effect was also identified among moderate and light coffee drinkers but to a lesser degree. 2 to 5 cups, 1 cup or less than 1 cup a day, reduced early mortality by 12%, 8% and 6% respectively over the same period.
The results were adjusted for life style factors such as smoking and diet. The findings, published in Jama Internal Medicine add to the growing evidence coffee can be part of a healthy diet, the authors say. In 2016, the World Health Organization withdrew its warnings on a link between coffee and bladder cancer and instead said the drink could help protect against womb and liver cancer. However, pregnant women are at greater risk of losing their baby if they drink too much coffee, and caffeine also slightly raises the risk of bone fractures amongst women. Victoria Taylor, Senior Dietitian at the British Heart Foundation, said: ‘What is interesting is the study looked at different types of coffee consumed such as instant, ground and decaffeinated coffee. All types showed a lower risk of death with increasing coffee drinking, but more research is needed to understand what is behind this.’
As I said at the outset, delving into the unknown can give one some comfort which one needs, given the complexities that often emerge as a result of these studies.