Image Source: The Times
Coffee drinkers appear to have a lower risk of dying young, whether they drink it with or without sugar, however scientists caution that the discovery may not be due to the brew itself.
The British Coffee Association estimates that 98 million cups of coffee are consumed per day in the UK, whereas the National Coffee Association estimates that 517 million cups are consumed in the US.
Coffee consumption has been linked to a lower incidence of chronic liver disease, certain malignancies, and even dementia in previous research.
Now, Chinese researchers have shown that persons who drank a moderate amount of coffee every day, whether sweetened or not, had a decreased risk of dying throughout a seven-year period than those who didn’t.
Instant, ground, and decaffeinated coffees all yielded similar outcomes.
The study, which was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, is based on data from more than 171,000 UK BioBank participants. Since its inception in 2006, the UK BioBank has collected genetic, lifestyle, and health data from more than 500,000 people, including information on coffee consumption.
The researchers followed the individuals for a median of seven years, starting in 2009, and found that 3,177 people died during that time.
After accounting for parameters such as age, gender, ethnicity, educational level, smoking status, quantity of physical activity, BMI, and diet, the researchers discovered that persons who drank unsweetened coffee had the lowest risk of dying when compared to those who did not.
Those who drank 2.5 to 4.5 cups per day had the highest reduction in death risk, with a 29 percent lower chance of death.
Coffee sweetened with sugar was also associated with a lower risk of death, at least among those who consumed 1.5 to 3.5 cups per day. People who used artificial sweeteners saw a less pronounced trend.
The study, on the other hand, only asked participants once about their coffee use and other behaviors, and relied on self-reporting. The majority of individuals who used sugar added only a teaspoon to their beverage, so it’s unclear if the findings would hold true for high-sugar specialty coffees.
The findings, while intriguing, were not clear-cut, according to Naveed Sattar, a professor of metabolic medicine at the University of Glasgow who was not involved in the study.
“These conclusions are far from definitive,” he said, citing the observational aspect of the new study.
“This is because coffee consumers are more affluent and live longer lives than non-drinkers, and I’m not confident that observational studies can overcome these characteristics.” Prof Sattar went on to say that there was no evidence linking coffee to any significant health advantages based on genetic evidence.
“I would advise people to stick to coffee or tea, preferably without sugar, which most people can adjust to, and to do all the other things we know keep you healthy – move more, eat better, and sleep better,” says the author.
Dr Christina Wee, the journal’s deputy editor, concurred that the results were not conclusive in an accompanying editorial. However, she went on to say that drinking coffee, whether unsweetened or with a small bit of sugar, did not appear to be hazardous to the majority of people.
“So drink up – but while additional evidence develops, it would be good to avoid too many caramel macchiatos,” she said.