Long live the coffee!
Coffee consumption has been boosted by its potential health benefits by contain a variety bioactive compounds, such as caffeine and phenolic compounds.
Evidences of these many benefits have raised in the last years, but one of them has stood out: reduced risk of all-cause mortality.
Several multicenter prospective trials have found very interesting results regarding the chronic consumption of coffee.
Coffee drinkers have some common characteristics such as being younger, smoking and drinking more alcohol, which does not seem to be a good combination considering the negative effects of alcohol and smoking on health.
The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study with 521,330 participants from 10 European countries with a follow-up of more than 16 years observed that the high consumption of coffee, caffeinated or decaffeinated, was associated with a lower risk of mortality, mainly in circulatory and digestive diseases.
The Multiethnic Cohort (MEC) study, with more than 185,000 participants of different ethnicities in a follow-up of more than 16 years, found the same inverse association between coffee consumption and all-cause mortality among never smokers, previous smokers, and current smokers. Reduced risk of mortality occurred mainly for heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes and kidney disease.
Two other important prospective studies, the Nurses' Health Study and the Health Professional Follow-up Study, also showed that drinking more than 1 to 3 cups of coffee per day was associated with a 9% lower risk of all-cause death than drinking no coffee
Other trials observed the same inverse association between coffee consumption and mortality, more consistent in cardiovascular diseases, more controversial about cancer, with the same confounding or weakening factor of the positive effects: smoking. There have also been associations between drinking coffee and reduced risk of neurological diseases, such as Parkinson's disease.
The average consumption to achieve those positive effects is 3 to 4 cups of coffee per day, caffeinated or decaffeinated.
In addition, coffee has been considered a protective factor for chronic liver disease and associated with a lower risk of mortality, such as in non-alcoholic fat liver disease (NAFLD) and cirrhosis.
Among coffee drinkers, lower values of biochemical indicators for liver function have been found, as well as experimental studies have found anti-fibrogenic and protective effects in steatogenesis and carcinogenesis in hepatic cells and stellate cells, important in the fibrosis process, related to caffeine and chlorogenic acid.
It is important to remember that these results do not make us free to have inadequate lifestyle habits, such as drinking alcohol in large quantities or smoking, using coffee to minimize the negative effects on health. On the contrary, they allow us to have another ally in longevity and in reducing the risk of developing chronic diseases.
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Ding M, Satija A, Bhupathiraju SN, Hu Y, Sun Q, Han J, et al. Association of Coffee Consumption With Total and Cause Specific Mortality in 3 Large Prospective Cohorts. Circulation. 2015.