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Coffee and Life Expectancy

Can Coffee Improve Life Expectancy?


Updated February 18, 2009

Coffee with Artistic Froth

Coffee with Artistic Froth

Photo: Ron Levine / Getty Images
Could coffee be so healthy that it extends life expectancy or is it an unhealthy, dangerous drink? Surprisingly until recently, we really didn’t know the answer to that question. This is amazing when you consider that more than half the people in the United States drink coffee regularly for most of their adult life. If coffee were beneficial (or dangerous) to life expectancy, that would be a major public health issue.

Coffee Is Good For Your Health and Life Expectancy

Here’s the fantastic news: Coffee is probably good for your overall health and life expectancy, based on research. I have to say “probably” because more research needs to be done before we can 100% say that coffee helps improve health and life expectancy. But it is becoming increasingly clear that coffee is almost certainly not bad for health and is probably a boost to life expectancy and disease prevention.

Coffee and Life Expectancy

The first bit of good news comes from a study of over 84,000 U.S. women and over 41,000 U.S. men from the early/mid 1980s to 2004. The study recorded people’s coffee drinking habits (including decaffeinated versus caffeinated) and their long-term health and life expectancy. They found that drinking coffee (up to six cups a day) did not impact the life expectancy of the over 125,000 people in the study. So this shows us that coffee isn’t bad for you.

Coffee and Heart Disease in Women

For women, the news gets even better. The coffee drinkers not only did not have shorter life expectancies than the non-coffee drinkers, they even had better life expectancies when it came to heart disease. In fact, women who drank 2 to 3 cups of caffeinated coffee everyday had a 25% reduction in heart disease mortality risk. In other words, coffee drinkers (female) were less likely to die from heart disease than the female coffee non-drinkers.

Coffee and Cancer Risk

But what about cancer? Does drinking coffee cause cancer or does it help? In this study, the coffee drinkers and the coffee non-drinkers had the same risk for cancer (all types). I take this as good news, coffee at least doesn’t seem to be increasing the risk of cancer.For me, the bottom line is that there is no evidence, in these long terms studies, that coffee is bad for you. That's enough. It doesn't have to be good for you (though the health benefits of coffee are being researched), the fact that it isn't bad for me will have me brewing a fresh pot everyday.

Read More on Coffee and Health


The Relationship of Coffee Consumption with Mortality.Esther Lopez-Garcia, PhD; Rob M. van Dam, PhD; Tricia Y. Li, MD; Fernando Rodriguez-Artalejo, MD, PhD; and Frank B. Hu, MD, PhD. 17 June 2008 | Volume 148 Issue 12 | Pages 904-914.

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