Study: Coffee Drinkers Live Longer

A National Institutes of Health study appears to show that people who drink coffee live longer than people who don’t:

Your morning cup of coffee may start to taste even better after a major government study found that frequent coffee drinkers have a lower risk of dying from a variety of diseases, compared with people who drink little or no coffee.

The report, published online in The New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday, analyzed the coffee-drinking habits of more than 400,000 men and women ages 50 to 71, making it the largest-ever study of the relationship between coffee consumption and health.

Previous studies have offered conflicting results on the relative benefits or harms associated with regular coffee consumption. While coffee contains caffeine, a stimulant that may temporarily increase heart rate and blood pressure in some people, coffee also contains hundreds of unique compounds and antioxidants that may confer health benefits. Further confusing much of the research into coffee is the fact that many coffee drinkers are also smokers, and it has been difficult to untangle the relative health effects of coffee and cigarettes.

To learn more, researchers from the National Institutes of Health analyzed diet and health information collected from questionnaires filled out by 229,119 men and 173,141 women who were members of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) between 1995 and 1996. The respondents were followed until 2008, by which point 52,000 had died.

As expected, the researchers found that the regular coffee drinkers in the group were also more likely to be smokers. They ate more red meat and fewer fruits and vegetables, exercised less and drank more alcohol – all behaviors associated with poor health.

But once the researchers controlled for those risks, the data showed that the more coffee a person consumed, the less likely he or she was to die from a number of health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, respiratory disease, stroke, infections and even injuries and accidents.

Over all, the risk of dying during the 14-year study period was about 10 percent lower for men and about 15 percent lower for women who drank anywhere from two cups to six or more cups of coffee a day. The association between coffee and lower risk of dying was similar whether the coffee drinker consumed caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee.

Personally, I’m not going to risk it. Give me the caffeinated stuff. And, is there anything this wonder drug can’t do?

FILED UNDER: Health, Quick Takes
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook


  1. PJ says:

    Whether this was a causal or associational finding cannot be determined from our data.

  2. Franklin says:

    But have they fixed the shitty taste yet?

  3. michael reynolds says:

    So what you’re saying is that, say, 80 cups a day would confer eternal life? So. . . heaven is a giant Starbucks?

  4. James says:

    @michael reynolds: That’s a distressing thought.

  5. PJ says:

    @michael reynolds:

    So what you’re saying is that, say, 80 cups a day would confer eternal life? So. . . heaven is a giant Starbucks?

    The sweet spot in the study, both for men and women, looks to be 4-5 cups.
    (That is, according to this study, people who are drinking 4-5 cups of coffee live longer than those who drink <1, 1, 2-3 or 6+, or no cups of coffee. The study doesn't say that drinking 4-5 cups of coffee makes you live longer than if you are drinking <1, 1, 2-3 or 6+, or none at all).

    (Also, most people in study drink 2-3 cups.)

  6. PJ says:


    (Also, most people in study drink 2-3 cups.)

    Not most. 2-3 cups is the biggest subgroup.

  7. rodney dill says:

    @michael reynolds: Guess you’d have to cut back?