Is coffee a vice? Yes, it is. But it is a healthy vice and it may even extend the human lifespan. At least, this is the thesis of two important medical researches published on Annals of Internal Medicine, based on full-scale investigations ran on different population groups.
The first study on the relationship between coffee consumption and reduced death rate, has been conducted on 520 thousand people from ten European countries by 48 researchers led by Marc Gunter, epidemiologist at International Agency for Research on Cancer1. The second one, by Wendy Setiawan of University of Southern California2, investigated 185 thousand people: African Americans, Japanese Americans, Hispanic and Latinos, Whites.
Both the researches pointed out the same results with similar benefits on different ethnic groups. Compared with somebody who doesn’t drink coffee at all, a person who consume every day a cup of 235 ml (the classic espresso is about 40 ml) has a 12% reduced risk of death from any cause (cardiac disorders, cancer, stroke, diabetes, lung and kidney pathologies). The benefits are even stronger for a person who drink 2 or 3 cups a day, as they increase with the dose: -12% on death rate for one cup, -18% for three or more cups.
The result seems not to be related with caffeine, so decaffeinated is effective as well. Marc Gunter explained that the association between drinking coffee end reduced mortality doesn’t depend on caffeine, and the beneficial effects rely on other molecules in coffee.
Some examples of these substances are polyphenols (powerful vegetal antioxidants), chlorogenic acids (related to polyphenols), diterpenes (also found in vegetal resins and balms). All of them have antioxidant properties. The main benefits seem to be on the digestive system. Doctor Gunter, in fact, stresses that coffee drinkers have a better liver enzymatic profile and, also, a better glucose control and a lower inflammation rate. This is, possibly, an explanation of coffee effects in lowering mortality.
Furthermore, the authors of the two studies emphasize how these outcomes can be seen together with those of past researches, suggesting several beneficial effects related to coffee drinking.
Hence, coffee is not just a delicious vice, but it is also an “elixir of life”.