People who drink coffee have a lower risk of dying from a host of causes, including heart disease, stroke and liver disease, research suggests – but experts say it’s unclear whether the health boost is down to the brew itself.
The connection, revealed in two large studies, was found to hold regardless of whether the coffee was caffeinated or not, with the effect higher among those who drank more cups of coffee a day.
But scientists say that the link might just be down to coffee-drinkers having healthier behaviours.
“It is plausible that there is something else behind this that is causing this relationship,” said Marc Gunter, a co-author of one of the studies, from the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
But, he added, based on the consistency of the results he would be surprised if coffee itself didn’t play a role in reducing the risk of death.
About 2.25bn cups of coffee are consumed worldwide every day. While previous studies have suggested coffee might have health benefits, the latest research involves large and diverse cohorts of participants.
The first study looked at coffee consumption among more than 185,000 white and non-white participants, recruited in the early 1990s and followed up for an average of over 16 years. The results revealed that drinking one cup of coffee a day was linked to a 12% lower risk of death at any age, from any cause while those drinking two or three cups a day had an 18% lower risk, with the association not linked to ethnicity.
“We found that coffee drinkers had a reduced risk of death from heart disease, from cancer, from stroke, respiratory disease, diabetes and kidney disease,” said Veronica Setiawan, associate professor of preventive medicine at the University of Southern California and a co-author of the research.