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|Emma McGowan NatureCity author & contributor|
Previous research into the effects of coffee have had contradictory findings: some studies found that it’s bad for you, causing high blood pressure and other heart ailments, while other studies found that the antioxidants in coffee provide numerous health benefits ranging from aiding your liver to improving markers of diabetes.
Researchers at the National Cancer Institute recently completed the largest ever study on the issue and found coffee may actually help you live longer. The study was published on May 17, 2012, in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The study began in 1995 and included 402,260 adults who were between the ages of 50 and 71 at that time. The researchers did not include individuals who had previous issues with heart disease, stroke, or cancer and also excluded people who consumed too many or too few calories.
At the beginning of the study, the researchers asked all of the participants about their coffee consumption. Forty-two thousand did not drink coffee, 15,000 drank six or more cups a day, and the rest consumed two or three cups daily.
By the end of the study in 2008, 52,000 of the participants had died. The men who had two or three cups of coffee a day were 10% less likely to die than those who did not drink coffee, while women who drank the same amount were 13% less likely to die.
Looking at the results more closely, the researchers found that each extra cup of coffee was correlated with a 6% reduction in risk of death in men and a 5% reduction in women. Women who drank four or five cups a day were at a 16% lower risk of death, the highest in the study.
The researchers found no difference between consumption of decaffeinated or caffeinated coffee.
Beyond longevity, previous studies have shown that coffee has a number of other health benefits. These benefits are generally attributed to the powerful antioxidants found in coffee called polyphenols and include reducing the risk of developing diabetes, prostate cancer, cirrhosis and oral cavities.
One note to coffee drinkers: be careful how you take your coffee. A double latte with whipped cream and three sugars is not going to provide the health benefits seen here, as the high fat and sugar content can negate the other positive effects.
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