Rockville, MD—Maybe you should think twice before passing on your morning coffee.

Research from the National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, and American Association of Retired Persons found that your morning wake-me-up could decrease the chances of dying from heart disease, respiratory disease, stroke, injuries and accidents, diabetes and infections. The study was published in the May 17, 2012 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Neal Freedman, Ph.D., the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, NCI and his colleagues started observing the coffee intake of 400,000 men and women aged between 50 and 71 who participated in the AARP Diet and Health Study. Background information on participants’ experience with coffee was recorded in 1995–1996, and they were followed and studied until either December 31, 2008 or until they died.

Results showed that a higher intake of coffee, caffeinated or decaffeinated, yielded a lower risk of death, despite other associated health-affecting habits such as smoking and alcohol consumption. Those who drank three or more cups a day had approximately a 10% lower risk of dying than those who abstain from drinking coffee completely. Additionally, coffee was not associated with cancer-related deaths in women, but did show a marginal increase in cancer-related deaths among men. It must be noted, however, that this study was conducted in only a decade and does not reflect the results of long-term intake. Also important is that information on how coffee was prepared was lacking. Preparation differences (espresso, boiled, filtered, etc.) could affect the levels of protective components in the beverage, and could therefore affect the results of the study.

“Coffee is one of the most widely consumed beverages in America, but the association between coffee consumption and risk of death has been unclear,” said Freedman. “Although we cannot infer a casual relationship between coffee drinking and lower risk of death, we believe these results do provide some reassurance that coffee drinking does not adversely affect health.”


Published in WholeFoods Magazine, July 2012 (online 5/23/12)