It turns out, a cup of coffee can do a lot more than just perk up your morning.
People who drink more coffee may have a lower risk of premature death from disease, according to two new studies published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The results were consistent among more than 700,000 participants from a variety of racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds.
Previous research has suggested that coffee is good for you, but was often limited to smaller groups and people of European decent, writes the Los Angeles Times.
And both studies found benefits for people who drank decaffeinated as well.
A team from the National Cancer Institute, USC and the University of Hawaii examined data from the Multiethnic Cohort study, which followed approximately 200,000 Hawaiians and Californians for an average of 16 years.
Researchers found that people who drank two to four cups of coffee a day had an 18% lower risk of death compared with people who did not drink coffee. The positive effect was seen across all ethnic groups, Native Hawaiians excepted (possibly because there weren’t enough of them in the study).
The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition study followed more than a half-million subjects in 10 European countries, making it the largest study to date on coffee and mortality. Participants were tracked for an average of 16 years.
It found that the top 25% of coffee drinkers in each nation had significantly lower all-cause mortality than non-consumers (meaning they were less likely to die during the course of the study). After adjusting for smoking, diet and other factors, the authors determined that coffee consumption reduced the risk of early death by 12% for men and 7% for women.
These studies further support the growing scientific evidence linking coffee with longevity. Last year, the World Health Organization’s cancer research arm concluded that coffee is not carcinogenic, and may even reduce the risk of some cancers. And, recent findings indicate that coffee can help prevent liver disease.
While more investigation is needed to understand coffee’s potential health benefits, “there are reasons to think that compounds in coffee would reduce the risk of premature death,” writes the Times. Specifically, antioxidants (such as polyphenol) have been shown to reduce inflammation in the body.
An editorial that accompanied the studies concluded that it was still “premature” to recommend coffee as a way to live longer, but coffee lovers could relax knowing that no adverse effects were found.