Uptown Coffee

The Healthy Halo of Coffee Is Glowing Brighter

Coffee just traded up to a brighter halo of health. In Annals of Internal Medicine yesterday, two studies found an association between drinking the brew and living a little bit longer. Should everyone drink deeply of this “elixir”?

Our advice? Drink it if you like it.

A Modest Benefit

These two studies cover diverse populations. Song Yi-Park and colleagues studied a multi-ethnic cohort of 185,855 African Americans, Native Hawaiians, Japanese Americans, Latinos, and whites. They found a lower risk for death associated with coffee drinking in each of those groups, except for native Hawaiians.

And then, Marc Gunter and colleagues studied 521,330 persons from ten European countries. Likewise, they found an association between drinking more coffee and a lower risk of death. In both studies, it made no difference if the coffee was decaffeinated.

But, the reduced risk linked to coffee was “modest and sensitive to confounding.” Those are the words of Eliseo Guallar, Dan Arking, and Di Zhao in a commentary published with these studies. In other words, it’s not a big benefit and it might just be a coincidence.

Drink It If You Like It

Veronica Setiawan, senior author on the multi-ethnic study, notes an important caution:

We cannot say that drinking coffee will prolong your life, but we see an association.

Some people can’t imagine life without regularly enjoying a cuppa joe. Others cannot stand the stuff. And if you don’t like it, it certainly won’t enhance your life. It might not even prolong it. All the coffee drinkers in these studies chose their brew and, presumably, enjoyed it.

Food and drink is for pleasure and sustenance. It’s not medicine.

Click here for the muli-ethnic study, here for the European study, and here for the commentary. For further perspective, click here, here, and here.

Uptown Coffee, photograph © Ted Kyle / flickr

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July 12, 2017

2 Responses to “The Healthy Halo of Coffee Is Glowing Brighter”

  1. July 12, 2017 at 9:55 pm, Jennie Brand-Miller said:

    Hi Ted,
    I loved your statement: “Food and drink is for pleasure and sustenance. It’s not medicine.” I’m going to quote you on that. With reference to coffee drink in the US, is most coffee consumed with a spoonful or two of sugar? Or it is ‘straight’?

    • July 13, 2017 at 4:18 am, Ted said:

      Thanks, Jennie! One of the most popular coffee drinks here is a pumpkin spice latte: 50 grams of sugar in a medium (16 oz) serving.

      An and Shi report that “About 67.5% of coffee consumers drank coffee with caloric add-ins; whereas 33.4% of tea consumers drank tea with caloric add-ins.” https://doi.org/10.1016/j.puhe.2016.12.032