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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Yet another reason to drink coffee!

Anyone that knows me knows that I have been called a bit of a coffee snob, as I like to roast my own beans at home...so I don't really need another reason to drink coffee - however I thought that I would mention the findings of this just-published study in New England Journal of Medicine, ominously titled "Association of Coffee Drinking with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality".  I held my breath as I read that the study, carried out by the Epidemiology group at the National Institutes of Health, followed the health outcomes of nearly 230,000 men and 170,000 women aged 50-71 years of age.  Those are some big numbers - over the period of the study, some 13 years, nearly 50,000 participants passed away.  After adjusting for age, coffee drinkers were more likely to die! **stifle inward scream**.  However, it turns out however, that coffee drinkers actually also include many more smokers than non-coffee drinkers - so after separating out the smokers, coffee drinkers actually have a significantly reduced risk of dying from heart disease, respiratory disease, stroke, injuries and accidents, diabetes, and infections, but not for deaths due to cancer.  I know you want to know *how* much coffee had an effect - interestingly it was different for men and women - for men, the effect was evident at less than a cup a day, and maxed at 1 cup thru more than 6.  For women, 2-3 cups produced an average 13% reduction in mortality, with protection maxing out at more than 6 cups per day (average 15% reduction).  Apparently, it didn't matter if you drank mostly caffeinated, or decaf either -- but what I wonder is if there was also any relationship with use of sweetener (sugar or artificial) in the coffee.  Anyhow, studies like this do still have limitations - people with existing cancer, heart disease or who had had a stroke at baseline were excluded, and coffee intake was reported once, at baseline.  Nevertheless, I'm liking this data - if you have access to NEJM, you can read the paper, by Neal Freedman et al.  here --

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