Drink Coffee, Live Longer ... Even for Those Who Drink a Lot

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Worried about that eighth cup of coffee? Have no fear, says new study.

Coffee is a magical elixir that delivers many of us from morning grogginess into a state of sparkling productivity. And since it’s so good – it feels like such a great cheat – it certainly can’t be good for us, right?

Wrong. Thank you thank you thank you, kind gods of nutrition. While for years coffee was considered a not-necessarily-healthy vice, there has been increasing evidence of its benefits, not detriments. The latest research to toot the coffee horn was just published in JAMA Internal Medicine; it concludes that coffee consumption is linked to a lower risk of early death.

"We found that people who drank two to three cups per day had about a 12 percent lower risk of death compared to non-coffee drinkers," says Erikka Loftfield, a research fellow at the National Cancer Institute.

The study included nearly 500,000 people – ranging in age from 38 to 73 – in the United Kingdom. And remarkably, they found that the results included heavy coffee consumption, across various coffee types and among people with genetic differences that affect caffeine metabolism, according to Northwestern University, one of the institutions involved in the study.

Earlier research has found links between drinking coffee and a decreased risk of major diseases, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes, as well as overall mortality – but failed to dispel concerns about heavy coffee drinking, especially for people with genetic variants that affect caffeine metabolism. It was suspected that people who metabolize coffee more slowly might have a higher risk of cardiovascular-related problems.

But over the course of their study – and after more than 10 years of follow-up – they concluded that coffee drinking was associated with a significantly lower risk of early death in both slow and fast metabolizers of caffeine.

And, brace yourselves, even among people who drank eight or more cups per day.

Now if the idea of eight cups of coffee a day gives you the jitters just thinking about it, another interesting point is this: The beneficial results were found across coffee types – including ground, instant and decaffeinated coffee. Meaning, you don’t have to get the jitters at all if you are sensitive to caffeine. The benefits, researchers believe, are from the antioxidant-rich bean itself, not the caffeine.

In the U.S., there have been similar studies linking higher consumption of coffee to a lower risk of early death in both men and women, reports NPR. Daily coffee drinking is also linked to a decreased risk of stroke and Type 2 diabetes.

So there you have it. French fries might be out (grief ensues) and sugar may be the devil, but we'll always have coffee ... cup after cup after cup.