Posted by Dayne Hudson in Wellness
Estimated reading time: 6mins
Firstly, this study is an observational one, meaning it didn’t study cause and effect.
This means scientists look at the data of many, see how long they live, analyse what they report they’ve eaten, and draw conclusions.
And sometimes it’s accurate, and other times it’s totally wrong.
But observational research is still good for generating a hypothesis – which is all we can draw from this study at this point.
The study analysed data from more than 171,000 participants of the UK BioBank, which has collected genetic, lifestyle, and health information from more than half a million people since it began in 2006.
And they found that people who drink coffee – with or without sugar – appear to have a lower risk of early death compared to non-drinkers. This also includes instant, ground, and decaffeinated coffee.
The Chinese researchers used data from death certificates to track the participants for a median period of seven years from 2009, during which 3,177 people died.
And a 29% lower risk of death was the largest reduction – seen for those drinking between 2.5 and 4.5 cups a day.
Reductions in the risk of death were also seen for coffee sweetened with sugar, at least for those drinking between 1.5 and 3.5 cups a day.
But the researchers reported the trend was less clear for people who used artificial sweeteners.
I must point out that the research questioned participants about coffee drinking and other habits only once and relied on self-reporting (as these studies often do). So, a lot of people are sceptical but observational findings still warrant further research as mentioned.
Coffee has been linked to better health in other observational research, including:
And this review found that three-to-four cups a day was better than none for reducing the risk of all causes of mortality, cardiovascular mortality, and cardiovascular disease.
Coffee was also found to be associated with an 18% lower risk of incident cancer, and a lower risk of several specific cancers and neurological, metabolic, and liver conditions.
And when the researchers adjusted the data for smokers, the harmful associations were “largely nullified.”
This is unlikely but for argument’s sake, I’ll tell you what I mean. You would’ve heard the myth that persisted for years that “a little bit of red wine is good for your heart.”
This was accepted for so long until (another) study analysing BioBank data, looked at the connection between genes linked to alcohol intake and heart issues, and found drinking ANY amount of red wine was associated with an increased risk of disease.
The senior author said the narrative might have been the wrong way around from the start: the low intake of alcohol from certain populations is associated with a better diet and exercise, and THIS is the reason there’s been lower risk of cardiovascular issues.
In other words, we've thought red wine was the reason people were having fewer heart health issues. But really, those drinking a very moderate amount of alcohol are actually much healthier all round – exercising regularly and eating better.
And when the researchers adjusted the data to remove these healthy lifestyle factors — the heart health benefits of being in the light and moderate categories disappeared.
They found any alcohol consumption was then associated with a greater risk of cardiovascular disease.
And this included red wine and alcohol in general.
Moreover, another study looked at the risk factors for death and disability from alcohol from 694 data sources from around the world, stretching from 1990 to 2016. And one of its conclusions?
“The level of alcohol consumption that minimised harm across health outcomes was zero standard drinks per week.”
Now I’m not saying this will be the case with coffee – alcohol is a carcinogen. But it’s an example of how observational research can be totally wrong, and it just so happened to come from the same data pool!
Let’s get this straight: there are NO reasons to stop using caffeine found in coffee before workouts. So, keep doing that!
Coffee may help us live longer. This new study found coffee with or without sugar may induce a lower risk of early death – a 29% lower risk of death was the largest reduction for between 2.5 and 4.5 cups a day. Reductions in the risk of death were also seen for coffee sweetened with sugar, at least for those drinking between 1.5 and 3.5 cups a day.
It may be that coffee drinkers are healthier, and live healthier lives and therefore likely to live longer. But more research is needed before we know either way. Keep consuming coffee before your workouts for the performance benefits.