Can Coffee Make You Live Longer?

Rsearchers love to explore the health benefits of coffee; indeed, it seems like there's a new study on the subject getting released every day (but for good reason — we all love our coffee and want to feel good about our life choices, right?). Well, today I'm going to give you yet another reason to pour yourself another cup: Coffee could make you live longer, according to new research. The study, which was titled "Coffee and Total and Cause-specific Mortality" and published in the journal Circulation, looked at how the risk of death was affected by drinking coffee daily — and the results are encouraging for java fanatics everywhere.

In order to see if there was a relationship between heavy coffee drinkers and a risk of death, the researchers assembled data from three larger, ongoing studies: The Nurses' Health Study, the Nurses' Health Study 2, and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. All in all, over 208,000 individuals, both men and women, made up the data set; information was gathered via validated food questionnaires, and participants were followed for up to 30 years.

According to the data, there were, in fact, some correlations between coffee consumption and risk of mortality. Those who drank between three and five cups of coffee per day, for example, had about a 15 percent lower risk of premature mortality compared to non-coffee drinkers; furthermore, those who drank anywhere between one and five cups per day say a lower overall risk of death, too. It's worth noting that caffeine may not be the responsible party here, though: Decaf drinkers also saw these same lowered risks. "Regular consumption of coffee was inversely associated with risk of total mortality and mortality... results from this and previous studies indicate that coffee consumption can be incorporated into a healthy lifestyle," the researchers wrote in their paper's conclusion.

As I mentioned earlier, coffee's health benefits or lack thereof have been long contested in the scientific community, with studies showing both pros and cons to coffee consumption. In fact, the results of this study are even being debated — said researcher Andrew Maynard from Arizona State University to NPR, "Not everyone reacts to coffee in the same way. There are a lot of unknowns as to what [may explain] the increase in life expectancy." He also said the impact of these results is "small," so you may not want to get too excited about the potential decreased risk of death.

So: Should you drink more of your favorite brew? Since the jury seems to still be out despite tons of research as to whether or not coffee is good for us, let's take a look at six other pros and cons to drinking the stuff. Maybe it'll help you decide for yourselves if it's worth it.

1. CON: Coffee Can Upset Your Sleep Habits

Conventional wisdom says to not drink coffee in the evenings — and there's good reason for it: It takes up to six hours for the caffeine you ingest from coffee to work its way through your system, which in turn might disrupt your sleep habits. Do yourself a favor and cut yourself off from coffee long before bedtime (say, maybe drawing the line at 1 p.m.?), so that you can get the rest you need.

2. PRO: Coffee Can Increase Your Brain Power

Having a cup of coffee before a big exam or meeting might be a good idea, as a 2002 study found that caffeine could mitigate the negative effects of stress, sleep loss, and mood. If you need to relax, perhaps try drinking some coffee.

3. PRO: Drinking Coffee Daily Could Decrease Your Risk of Disease

Research has found that coffee can decrease the risk of developing dementia, Alzheimers, and Parkinson's disease, thanks to the antioxidants found in the stuff — it can help to prevent brain damage on a cellular level.

4. CON: Coffee Can Raise Your Blood Pressure

Research has shown that drinking coffee can raise your blood pressure levels; it can also boost your anxiety. Not so good.

5. PRO: It Could Decrease Your Risk of Heart Disease

A meta-analysis on long-term coffee consumption conducted last year concluded that those who drank three to five cups of coffee per day were at the lowest risk for developing heart disease. The review looked at data from over 1.2 million participants, so I feel safe knowing that the results are legit.

6. CON: Drinking Too Much Coffee Can Cause You To Become Addicted

The problem with drinking coffee everyday is that your body will probably become dependent on it. If you're a frequent drinker and stop consuming, you'll likely experience symptoms of withdrawal, like headaches, depressed moods, and difficulty concentrating. So all that coffee might be good for you, but without it, you may be toast.

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