Monday, June 16, 2008

I'm going to live forever, part 73 of a continuing series

More good news about the nectar of the gods.

Harvard School of Public Health researchers looked at coffee drinking and the risk of dying from heart disease, cancer or any other cause. They found that people who drank more coffee were less likely to die during 18 years of follow-up in men, and 24 years of follow-up in women.

And the effect was strongest in women: those who drank two to five cups of coffee a day were up to 26 per cent less likely to die than abstainers - mainly because of a lower risk of death from heart disease.

Women who drank two to three cups of caffeinated coffee daily were 25 per cent less likely to die from cardiovascular disease than "non-consumers."

Those who drank more - four to five daily cups of coffee - saw their odds fare even better, to 34 per cent reduced risk.

Researchers found similar patterns for men, but the numbers didn't reach statistical significance, meaning they may be due to chance.

The team found no association between coffee drinking and dying of cancer in either gender.

"Previous studies had been inconsistent. Some of them found that coffee increased the risk of total death and others found just the opposite," says Esther Lopez-Garcia, the study's lead author.

Published in this week's Annals of Internal Medicine, the new study suggests that "coffee drinkers can be reassured that coffee doesn't increase the risk of death," says Lopez-Garcia, of the department of preventive medicine and public health at Universidad Autonoma de Madrid.

Showing something of an excess of scholarly caution,

Lopez-Garcia isn't recommending people drink more coffee to live longer. "It's too early to say coffee is beneficial for health," she says.

It's not too early; it just feels that way because you haven't had enough coffee yet!