Will drinking coffee help you live longer or will it shorten your lifespan?

The world is a caffeinated place with 151.3 million 60-kg bags of coffee consumed globally every year, according to data in the October 2016 of the International Coffee Organization. In the US, 64 percent of its citizens reported to having a cup of coffee in the past day. This is by far the highest figure recorded since 2012, according to the National Drinking Trends by the US’s National Coffee Association. In 2016, coffee consumption was at 57 percent and was recorded at 62 percent in 2017. 

Coffee is undoubtedly one of the most consumed beverages in the world. But what does science really reveal about coffee consumption? Is it beneficial or not? Does the answer lie in the amount of coffee we consume every day? 

recent study added interesting findings of how drinking coffee is actually good for people, even suggesting that as much as eight cups could add more years to your life. The researchers of the study cited “no differences” observed in terms of those with genetic polymorphisms that affect caffeine metabolism from those who drink a cup to those who consume more than eight cups of coffee. 

The Relationship Between Caffeine Intake and Mortality  

The study published in the JAMA Internal Medicine found an inverse relationship between Brits who drink up to eight cups of coffee or more every day and all-cause mortality. That means a person will have a reduced chance of dying.  

The study looked into the data from half a million Brits whose data and DNA are contained in the UK Biobank. Around 9.2 million people from the UK were invited to participate. The researchers’ aim was to look into the associations of drinking coffee with mortality by creating a genetic caffeine metabolism score, basing it on single nucleotide polymorphisms or SNPs. 

It is fair to mention, that the health effects of caffiene have long been documented. Many people use caffiene as a detox, or even while attending a 14 day inpatient rehab.

The study saw two groups of individuals that were differentiated by how quick they metabolize caffeine. The researchers then looked at the data from a survey result on coffee consumption, weight, and lifestyle habits, including smoking, among other factors, and their mortality using reports by the National Health Service. The study gathered the consent of 502,641 people including those who were not pregnant. 

The results of their study among coffee drinkers and non-coffee drinkers showed:

  1. Coffee drinking reduced the rate of deaths by 14 percent for those drinking eight cups a day taking into consideration all-cause mortality
  2. There were more male coffee drinkers
  3. Coffee drinkers were more likely former smokers and alcohol drinkers
  4. People drinking at least four cups a day smoked too
  5. People who drink less coffee were mostly older people, had a university degree or are “in excellent health”
  6. People whose caffeine metabolism were faster drank more
  7. Coffee drinkers, irrespective of their caffeine metabolism, were found to have a survival advantage 
  8. The most significant effect was found among green coffee drinkers, followed by instant coffee drinkers and decaffeinated

The study added to a growing literature explaining the impact of drinking coffee on people’s health. Since its publication, the study drew in a lot of interests to discuss more the advantages and disadvantages of consuming coffee. 

Some Benefits of Drinking Coffee

Whether you are a coffee lover or not, it is undeniable that volumes of documents have already discussed the benefits of drinking coffee. In 2013, researchers also found that increased intake of caffeine may contribute to the reduction of fatty liver in mice. 

The study, which was published in the Journal of Hepatology, found that caffeine reduced the fatty liver of mice that were given a high-fat diet, as it stimulates the metabolization of the lipids that are found in liver cells.   

The study, carried out by researchers from Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School, suggested that four cups of tea or coffee a day may be beneficial to prevent or slow down the progression of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease or NAFLD. Liver damage is one of today’s growing epidemic due to the changing lifestyle.

When Too Much Caffeine Is Bad

Caffeine is regarded as a psychostimulant and the most consumed psychoactive drug making people alert. A 100-gram coffee contains 40 mg caffeine. An average cup of coffee would probably give you 95 mg of caffeine. Based on studies, caffeine intake should not exceed 600mg.

A report previously published with the Mayo Clinic cited the possible problems of having too much caffeine. The risks even listed that having more than four cups of coffee a day could make a person: 

  1. Feel restless
  2. Jittery
  3. Experience insomnia
  4. Experience a migraine
  5. Feel irritable
  6. Frequently urinate
  7. Increase heart rate
  8. Have muscle tremors

The report suggested that some people feel more vulnerable to the effects of caffeine in coffee even with just one cup of tea or coffee. It said that a person’s reaction may be dependent on how much caffeine a person is used to drinking, medication used, body mass, age, and genetics. 

Aside from its physical effects, the consumption of caffeine and mental health, like the effects of alcohol on mental health, are being probed by scientists. In 2016, a study published in the Korean Journal of Family Medicine found links with caffeine intake and the severity of insomnia and depression among Korean adolescents.  

The study was performed on 234 middle school students in Daegu, South Korea using a questionnaire. The researchers found that higher caffeine intake was linked with lower academic achievement, higher weight and height and higher score in Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI), Insomnia Severity Scale (ISI), and Global Assessment of Recent Stress (GARS). 

The discourse on coffee drinking will not end soon. More research is needed to factor in not just the amount of coffee consumed, but also the person’s genetic make-up. It is clear that the recent study on coffee and mortality among the Brits have presented a new set of lenses to view things and consider the genetics. However, whether you consume three cups or eight cups of coffee, it is always best to keep in mind that drinking in moderation, similar to consuming alcohol, lean towards a more positive effect.

About the author

Charles Watson

Michigan born and raised.

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