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Coffee drinkers may actually live longer

A new study led by Queen Mary University of London and the Semmelweis University in Budapest has found that drinking up to three cups of coffee per day is highly beneficial for heart health. In addition, the results suggest that consuming moderate amounts of coffee reduces the overall mortality rate and the risk of strokes.

The scientists gathered data on coffee-drinking habits, lifestyle, blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol levels from 468,629 UK Biobank participants who didn’t have any record of heart disease before the beginning of the study. They were divided into three groups – non-coffee drinkers, light-to-moderate coffee drinkers, and heavy coffee drinkers.

“The large sample size, linked health data, and detailed heart MRI scans available in the UK Biobank offered a strong base to address this research question,” said study co-author Professor Steffen Petersen, a professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at Queen Mary. 

“According to the results, light-to-moderate coffee consumption is not damaging from a cardiovascular point of view, and it could be beneficial. As far as we know, this has been the largest study to date which focused on the effect of coffee on cardiovascular health.”

“Light-to-moderate coffee consumption was associated with a 12 percent lower risk of overall mortality, and with a 17 percent lower risk of death caused by cardiovascular diseases compared to non-coffee drinkers. In addition, from half to three cups of coffee was associated with a 21 percent lower risk of stroke,” reported study lead author Judit Simon, a PhD student at Semmelweis University.

Moreover, even for participants who were heavy coffee drinkers, the scientists did not find evidence of negative cardiovascular consequences. However, there were no positive heart benefits observed for this group, as was the case of light-to-moderate coffee drinkers.

The researchers also investigated the relationship between the type of coffee consumed (ground, instant, decaffeinated) and discovered that, while the consumption of ground coffee was associated with lower mortality risks, this benefit was not found in the case of instant coffee drinkers. This may be caused by the different production process of ground coffee, and the use of different types of additives during its manufacture. 

The consumption of decaffeinated coffee was also associated with lower mortality risks, suggesting that it is not only the caffeine that plays a role in the positive effects of coffee. Further research is needed to understand which are the beneficial elements contained in coffee and how they function.

The study is published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology

By Andrei Ionescu, Staff Writer

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