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Coffee Consumption Linked to Lower Suicide Rate

A recent study conducted by Harvard researchers suggests that there may be a association between drinking two to three cups of coffee daily and a 45% lower risk of suicide. The researchers attribute this to the fact that that coffee may act as a mild anti-depressant by increasing levels of serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline.

The researchers examined data from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study (43,599 men) and the Nurses’ Health Study and Nurses’ Health Study II (91,005 women).

All three studies took place between 1988 and 2008. The researchers collected information on consumption of caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee every four years via food-frequency questionnaires.

Over that time period, 277 suicides were recorded within the study groups.

Drinking two to three cups of coffee a day was correlated with a 45% lower risk of suicide when compared with drinking one 8 oz cup daily.

The researchers caution that more research needs to be undertaken to establish a definite link between caffeine consumption and suicide risk. The association they noted may be causal and due to unmeasured factors, such as the fact that people who feel anxious (and possibly suicidal) may avoid caffeine.

The study was published online ahead of print in The World Journal of Biological Psychiatry on July 2, 2013.

Previous studies have shown that coffee has a number of 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 may provide the cognitive health benefits seen here, but the high fat and sugar content can have other negative effects.

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