People who drink around three cups of coffee a day may live longer than non-coffee drinkers, a landmark study by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and Imperial College London has found.
Scientists analysed data from more than half a million people in ten European countries to explore the effect of coffee consumption on risk of mortality.
The research suggested that higher levels of coffee consumption lowered the risk of dying from circulatory diseases and diseases related to the digestive tract.
It was the largest analysis of the effects of coffee-drinking in a European population – where coffee consumption and preparation methods vary, from an espresso in Italy, to a cappuccino in the UK – finding a similar association between consumption and mortality.
People’s diets were assessed using questionnaires and interviews, with the highest level of coffee consumption (by volume) reported in Denmark (900ml per day) and lowest in Italy (92ml per day). Those who drank more coffee were also more likely to be younger, to be smokers, drinkers, eat more meat and less fruit and veg.
After 16 years of follow up, almost 42,000 people in the study had died from a range of conditions including cancer, circulatory diseases, heart failure and strokes.
Following statistical adjustments for lifestyle factors such as diet and smoking, the researchers found that the group with the highest consumption of coffee had lived longer.
Lad author Dr Marc Gunter of the IARC said: “We found that higher coffee consumption was associated with a lower risk of death from any cause, and specifically for circulatory diseases, and digestive diseases.
“Importantly, these results were similar across all of the ten European countries, with variable coffee drinking habits and customs. Our study also offers important insights into the possible mechanisms for the beneficial health effects of coffee.”
According to the group, more research is needed to find out which of the compounds in coffee may be giving a protective effect or potentially benefiting health.
Professor Elio Riboli, head of the School of Public Health at Imperial, said: “These findings add to a growing body of evidence which indicates that drinking coffee not only is safe, but it may actually have a protective health effect for people.
“While further research is needed, we can be confident that the results from a large European study confirm previous findings seen around the world.”
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