Can coffee really make you live longer?

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The researchers said they made a "statistically significant" observation between those who consumed the most coffee and lower risk of death, compared to non-drinkers.

A pair of large, landmark studies published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that drinking around three to five cups of coffee per day can be part of a healthy diet and that coffee drinkers had a lower risk of death, particularly from circulatory and digestive tract diseases.

Lead author Dr Marc Gunter of the IARC said: We found that higher coffee consumption was associated with a lower risk of death from any cause, and specifically for circulatory diseases, and digestive diseases.

The studies involved more than 700,000 participants from across a number of races, ethnicities, and cultural backgrounds.

Despite the positive results, there were also cases of increased risk for coffee drinkers: According to the study, women who drank more coffee also had an increased risk of ovarian cancer, even though one or both sexes had lower mortality rates for other cancers, like liver and lung.

Previous research at USC and other institutions have correlated coffee drinking with reduced risk of cancer, diabetes, Parkinson's disease, Type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases. Americans who drank one cup of coffee per day were 12% less likely to die than those who chose to live java-free.

Don't expect that chugging down the Starbucks will suddenly make you a centenarian, but this is good news for those of us who may have been feeling guilty about our coffee habit.

Furthermore, it is still unclear how coffee acts on the body to improve people's health. More experimental research will be needed in coming years to shed light on the chemical compounds in coffee that are exerting a protective effect. Scientists say the link might be down to coffee-drinkers having healthier behaviours, says The Guardian.

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"We do not fully understand the possible mechanisms underlying the coffee and mortality association".

Until more is known, he, too, said the findings at least suggest coffee isn't detrimental to people's health.

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Coffee may have reported health benefits, but it's not necessarily safe for everyone. Past studies have hinted that coffee might support liver function; and coffee drinkers in this study typically had lower levels of certain proteins that can signal problems with the liver.

But, he added, based on the consistency of the results he would be surprised if coffee itself didn't play a role in reducing the risk of death.

"If the estimated reductions in death really were down to coffee, then an extra cup of coffee every day would extend the life of a man by around three months and a woman by around a month on average", Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter from University of Cambridge said. Their habit reduced 18 percent chance of death.