You may have seen the headlines: Coffee Drinkers Double Their Risk of Death. And if you’re anything like me, you rolled your eyes and thought, “Not again!”
The coffee debate has been raging for years. One week, it’s a miracle health booster. The next, it’ll kill you quicker than arsenic. It’s a wonder that anyone believesanything doctors tell them these days. It seems like scientists just can’t make up their minds any more.
So what’s the truth? Does coffee really double your risk of an early death? Let’s take a look at what the study really says… and just how bad – or good – coffee really is.
The study, published by the Mayo Clinic, followed 43,727 adults for almost 20 years. At the start of the study, their ages ranged from 20 to 87. More than ¾ of them were men.
During the study period, 2,512 of the subjects died, 87.5% of them men. So, right at the start, something jumps out. Women made up 22% of the study group, but only 12% of the deaths.
Next, the researchers note that heavy coffee drinkers were also more likely to smoke. They were also more likely to have poor cardiovascular fitness. In other words, they were less likely to exercise.
Finally, the effect was only seen in people under 55. And the risk was only double for women. Men under 55 had about a 50% higher risk of death. Out of the entire group, coffee was only linked to a 21% rise in death risk.
And only among those who drank more than 28 cups a week… which is 4 cups a day.1
What the study didn’t find was that coffee was in any way the cause of the rise in risk. And the authors admit that. They simply advise that folks under 55 avoid drinking more than 4 cups a day.
On the other end of the health spectrum comes a study from the University of Athens Medical School.
There is an island in Greece – Ikaria – where the residents are ten times more likely to live past 90 than in the rest of Europe. Most of the people on Ikaria drink coffee. And most of those drink boiled Greek coffee.
This special type of coffee is higher in healthy plant chemicals – called polyphenols – and other antioxidants than other types of coffee. It’s also lower in caffeine.
In this study, Greek coffee drinkers – even fairly heavy drinkers – had healthier, more flexible arteries than non-drinkers. And the researchers think this may be one reason people on Ikaria live so long.2
Another study conducted on Ikaria’s older citizens found a heart-health benefit for moderate coffee drinkers with high blood pressure. These coffee drinkers had healthier main arteries than non-drinkers.3
This same study found a lower risk of blood sugar problems and high cholesterol… better kidney function… and a lower body mass index among moderate coffee drinkers!
Finally, a more recent report from Boston also found coffee may boost heart health. In this review of several studies, the hearts of moderate coffee drinkers pumped healthier amounts of blood.4
So, don’t let the headlines scare you. None of these studies say you should give up coffee. In fact, in moderate amounts, it may act like a nutritional supplement for your heart.
Yours in continued good health,
Best Life Herbals Wellness Team
1 Liu, J., et al, “Association of Coffee Consumption With All-Cause and Cardiovascular Disease Mortality,” Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 2013; DOI: 10.1016/j.mayocp.2013.06.020.
2 Siasos, G., et al, “Consumption of a boiled Greek type of coffee is associated with improved endothelial function: the Ikaria study,” Vasc Med. Apr 2013; 18(2): 55-62.
3 “Moderate coffee consumption improves aortic distensibility in hypertensive elderly inpiduals,” European Society of Cardiology. Aug 20, 2010.
4 Mostofsky, E., et al, “Habitual Coffee Consumption and Risk of Heart Failure: A Dose-Response Meta-Analysis,” CIRCHEARTFAILURE. Jun 6, 2012; 112.967299v1.
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