Can Coffee Actually Save Your Life?
- Written By:Michele Ross
“I can’t live without coffee” is a statement I’ve said countless times in my past two decades as a daily coffee drinker. As a teen, I’d stop by my local bagel shop (not too far from Jones Road HQ, in fact) before school for a large cup of hazelnut with milk and sugar; for most of my 20s, I favored black cold brew year round; and these days, I start my mornings with pour over and vanilla creamer. Simply put, I won’t get out of bed without the promise of drinking coffee straight away and—with no exaggeration—I can’t imagine life without it.
With that said, I instantly perked up when I came across a new study suggesting that my coffee intake might actually be saving my life. Keep reading to discover if your morning cup or midday pick-me-up could be doing the same.
More coffee = a longer life?
According to a June 2022 study published in The Annals of Internal Medicine, daily coffee drinkers were up to 30 percent less likely to die than non-coffee drinkers during the study period (from 2009 to 2018).
Researchers analyzed data from the UK Biobank from over 170,000 adults between the ages of 37 to 73 who had no history of cardiovascular disease or cancer at the baseline check-in.
What will (and won’t) work to lower mortality risk
Before you chug down an 8-cup pot of filtered coffee on your own in the name of longevity, there are a few considerations worth pointing out when it comes to these impressive statistics.
To start, the best results came from those who drank about three cups of coffee per day. Now, for the icing on the cake—or rather, to sweeten the (coffee) pot even further—these stats even applied to those who added a little over a teaspoon of sugar to each cup.
Yet you don’t necessarily have to switch up your routine if you typically have only a cup or two per day, enjoy your coffee black, or even opt for decaf instead. In fact, the researchers also found that:
anywhere from 1.5 to 3.5 cups of coffee per day reduced mortality risk
participants who consumed unsweetened coffee were 16 to 21 percent less likely to die in the study period
participants who drank both decaf and caffeinated coffee demonstrated the lowest reported mortality risk
It’s also worth noting where these benefits end and potential trouble begins:
A lower mortality risk began to cease in participants who drank over 4.5 cups daily.
Results were inconclusive in coffee drinkers who added artificial sweeteners to their coffee (which many health experts don’t endorse to begin with).
All bets are off once you throw sugar bombs like Frappucinos and lattes with extra syrup, whipped cream, and similar additives to the equation.
A few caveats
I’m sure I’m not the only coffee enthusiast jumping for joy given these findings (on top of a larger body of research showing that coffee can also help stave off several chronic diseases). However, it’s important to remember that since this was an observational study, several key factors could have been excluded or overlooked, which could skew the results.
For instance, many other factors will also influence your overall well-being throughout your lifetime, including but not limited to your:
- dietary habits
- fitness regimen
- stress levels
- quantity/quality of sleep
- family history
Moreover, drinking coffee according to the parameters above isn’t guaranteed to lower your mortality risk. Plus, if your body doesn’t take well to coffee or caffeine, you won’t be doing yourself any favors if you start drinking it merely for longevity’s sake.
All things considered, it’s still essential to prioritize sticking to healthy habits on a consistent basis over time. While drinking a few cups of coffee per day can be one of them, it’s only a small part in a much broader framework necessary to support wellness for years to come.