You might be one of the millions upon millions of people who enjoy a cup of morning coffee every day to start things off right. You may also need the mid-morning pick-me-up brew, or a coffee break with co-workers before, during or after lunch, or any other time during the day. Maybe you even enjoy a smooth cup of decaf in the evening after the long day is finished. Whether your coffee habit constitutes one drink a day or several, you are not alone in a routine that so many people find not only enjoyable but necessary to get through the day.
While coffee is an outrageously popular choice of beverage for millions, there seems to have always been some confusion about whether or not your coffee habit has a positive or negative impact on your health. For example, the high caffeine content and classification as a stimulant does make for a potentially addictive substance, especially if consumed in excess. Additionally, pregnant mothers should not drink large amounts of coffee because their babies are not fully equipped to metabolize caffeine. But in general, what are the benefits of drinking coffee regularly, and how do they compare? As a coffee drinker, you might be very excited to hear the answer.
Is Coffee Actually Healthy?
Despite the ongoing debate, coffee consumption was found to be inversely associated with total and cause-specific mortality in a 2012 study. The study notes, ‘Inverse associations were observed for deaths due to heart disease, respiratory disease, stroke, injuries and accidents, diabetes, and infections, but not for deaths due to cancer.’ (1) However, a new and extensive study conducted in the UK may have just broken some serious ground, measuring a factor that hasn’t been specifically weighed in the discussion of coffee and longevity: metabolism. (3)
A study conducted by researchers from the U.S. National Cancer Institute and Northwestern University using data from the UK Biobank measured the mortality of a massive study group of over 500,000 subjects over a 10 year period. Researchers analyzed the number of cups of coffee subjects consumed on average each day, using non-coffee drinkers as the control group. The also ‘investigated potential effect modification by caffeine metabolism,’ meaning the impact of their bodies’ ability to metabolize and utilize caffeine more or less quickly. (3)
The most interesting part of their findings is that even subjects who drank 8 or more cups of coffee a day were not any more likely to perish than those who drank less that one. Though the Mayo Clinic states up to 400 mg of caffeine a day is safe for most adult, these 8 or more cup a day-ers were drinking more than twice that amount! (4) That’s where the factor of caffeine metabolism comes into play. While we still must be careful not to overindulge in less healthy components of coffee like cream or sugars and should be mindful of our personal tolerance for caffeine, this study may yet put our nerves at ease, even if the coffee doesn’t. There’s no guilt in that morning coffee or any other serving for that matter! The conclusion of the studies are clear – Coffee drinking was associated with reduced risk of death. (2)