Coffee can help you live longer. Really, two new studies agree

Two new studies published this month in Annals of Internal Medicine will have coffee drinkers rejoicing. Both found that people who drank coffee  either with or without caffeine had a lower mortality rate than people who didn’t.

The first studied 521,330 people in 10 European countries during the course of about 16 years. Those people who drank the most coffee had lower death rates. In men and women, the study found less digestive diseases. In women, researchers found less heart disease and stroke, but more ovarian cancer.


A cup of coffee is best served black. Agencia Reforma, for Ahora Si

A study out of Los Angeles and Hawaii of 185,855 African Americans, native Hawaiians, Japanese Americans, Latinos and whites beginning in the mid-1990s found less death from heart disease, cancer, respiratory disease, stroke, diabetes and kidney disease. People saw the benefit of coffee at around three cups a day.

“It’s good news for me as a coffee drinker,” says Dr. George Rodgers, a cardiologist at Seton Heart Institute and a member of the faculty at Dell Medical School at the University of Texas. The studies, he says, are pretty convincing because of the number of people.

Before you pick up three grande mocha lattes at Starbucks a day, know that what’s in the coffee matters, too.

“I hesitate to encourage folks to drink more coffee, since most people load it with cream, sugar and syrups,” said Jill Frank an advance practice nurse and lead of Seton’s Integrative Therapies Program in a press release. “Drinking a caramel Frappuccino every day will definitely impact your health, but not in a good way.”

Skip the sugar and other additives and try drinking it black, Frank encourages.

These two studies are part of a long line of new coffee studies, but it’s unclear why coffee is this magical. We know it’s not the caffeine, Rodgers says, because the studies saw the same effects in people who drank caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee. It could be the antioxidants, he says. “I don’t think anyone knows for sure,” Rodgers says.

The Annals of Internal Medicine wrote an editorial that more research needs to be done to get to the bottom of this cup of coffee mystery. Coffee does several bioactive substances, including polyphenols, diterpenes and melanoidins, but it’s not clear what role those play in reducing the disease rates.


Maruxa Murphy, an entrepreneur and mother of three, founded Perky Perky Coffee, a new coffee company seeking to empower women. Researchers want to know what is in these magic beans. (TAMIR KALIFA/ AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Dr. Ryan Ince, of Seton Family of Doctors Plus Express Care,  suggests that for most healthy adults, “three to five cups per day or caffeine intake up to 400 milligram, coupled with proper diet and exercise could be a part of a healthy lifestyle,” aSeton press release said.

Rodgers agrees with that. The only time he counsels patients to not drink so much coffee is if they have a caffeine sensitivity causing them to have more symptoms like heart palpitations. In that case, they can switch to decaf. The acid in coffee also might not be good for people who have stomach sensitivities as well.

We’re been talking a lot about what to drink this in recent months, especially after the study linking diet soda consumption to Alzheimer’s and stroke and the death of a teen after consuming a high amount of caffeine. And we’ve told you that babies shouldn’t have juice and all kids should limit their juice intake, and pregnant women who drink soda can raise their child’s weight later on.

We’ve also written about whether sugar, agave, honey or sugar substitutes are best. 

What we do know is water is the best thing for you. If you don’t like it or your kids don’t want it, try it with some fruit slices like lemons and watermelon or mint in it. We’ve also been trying True Citrus flavor packets all summer. Each packet has 10 calories and uses crystalized lime, some cane sugar and some stevia leaf extract. It’s not bad, but we’d all rather be drinking that diet Dr Pepper or that iced vanilla latte.

Author: Nicole Villalpando

Nicole Villalpando writes about families in the Raising Austin blog and the Raising Austin column on Saturdays. She also offers a weekly and monthly family calendar at She tweets at @raisingaustin.

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