The Who2 Blog

Drink Up! More Coffee = Less Death

Keep the java coming.

So says the New England Journal of Medicine, which reports that daily coffee cuts the risk of death by up to a whopping 16%.

Heidi Klum photo, with Heidi Klum holding two cups of Starbucks coffee and smiling in a summer dress

Why not drink with both hands? No guarantee you’ll look as good as Heidi Klum, but it’s a start.

There are caveats, of course. If you smoke, the deal’s off.  (The scientists first found that coffee drinkers died more often than normal, until they realized that coffee-drinking and smoking go hand in hand. The good numbers came out only after they adjusted for smoking and “other potential confounders.”)

And it matters how much you drink. Money quote:

“Adjusted hazard ratios for death among men who drank coffee as compared with those who did not were as follows: 0.99 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.95 to 1.04) for drinking less than 1 cup per day, 0.94 (95% CI, 0.90 to 0.99) for 1 cup, 0.90 (95% CI, 0.86 to 0.93) for 2 or 3 cups, 0.88 (95% CI, 0.84 to 0.93) for 4 or 5 cups, and 0.90 (95% CI, 0.85 to 0.96) for 6 or more cups of coffee per day (P<0.001 for trend); the respective hazard ratios among women were 1.01 (95% CI, 0.96 to 1.07), 0.95 (95% CI, 0.90 to 1.01), 0.87 (95% CI, 0.83 to 0.92), 0.84 (95% CI, 0.79 to 0.90), and 0.85 (95% CI, 0.78 to 0.93) (P<0.001 for trend).” 

Put more simply, 4-5 cups a day is the sweet spot:

  • Less than a cup of day, a 1% less chance of death
  • One cup a day, a 6% edge
  • 2-3 cups a day, a 10% edge 
  • 4-5 cups a day, a 12% edge
  • 6 or more cups a day, back to a 10% edge

Those were the numbers for men. For women the benefit was even more pronounced, peaking at a 16% lower mortality rate for drinkers of 4-5 cups per day.

Photo of a cappucino coffee with the face of Barack Obama in it

The study says the effect “was observed for deaths due to heart disease, respiratory disease, stroke, injuries and accidents, diabetes, and infections.” But notably, not for cancer.

There are the usual disclaimers:

“Given the observational nature of our study, it is not possible to conclude that the inverse relationship between coffee consumption and mortality reflects cause and effect. However, we can speculate about plausible mechanisms by which coffee consumption might have health benefits. Coffee contains more than 1000 compounds that might affect the risk of death.”

Don’t harsh the coffee buzz, man.

Photo of Andrew Dice Clay, looking pudgy and balding, in a t-shirt and slurping an iced coffee through a straw

Also, findings may not apply if you’re Andrew Dice Clay.

Now see some very pleasant photos of Heidi Klum without coffee »

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