I hope you're reading this while drinking a cup of coffee. Maybe even your second or third cup.

That's because a massive new British study, examining the coffee habits and longevity of nearly 500,000 adults, says there's an unmistakable across-the-board increase in longevity among people who drink lots of coffee.

The lower lack of risk of dying is seen as significant, although not radical. But overall, "coffee drinkers were about 10 percent to 15 percent less likely to die than abstainers during a decade of follow-up," according to an Associated Press report on the study.

"It's not clear exactly how drinking coffee might affect longevity. Lead author Erikka Loftfield, a researcher at the U.S. National Cancer Institute, said coffee contains more than 1,000 chemical compounds including antioxidants, which help protect cells from damage," the AP reported.

The study, officially entitled, "Association of Coffee Drinking With Mortality by Genetic Variation in Caffeine Metabolism," was published this week in JAMA Internal Medicine.

If you think you might have heard this news before, that's because it backs up the same conclusions that quite a few other studies have reached. For example:

  • Researchers funded by the American Heart Association and the University of Colorado School of Medicine last year said they believe that every additional cup of coffee people drink each day drops their risk of heart failure or stroke by 8 percent.
  • The year before, I wrote about Stanford researchers who concluded that drinking more coffee might counteract a "fundamental inflammatory mechanism associated with human aging and the chronic diseases that come with it."
  • And a study out of Spain found that drinking four cups of coffee per day led to a 64 percent lower risk of dying among study participants compared to non-coffee drinkers. 

The more recent British study worked like this, according to the AP summary.

Researchers convinced 498,134 British men and women to fill out questionnaires that described their daily coffee consumption.

It turns out there were a lot of heavy coffee drinkers in the mix. About one-third of those surveyed said they drank between two and three cups of coffee each day, and 10,000 of them drank eight or more cups each day.

"During the next decade, 14,225 participants died, mostly of cancer or heart disease," the AP reported. The researchers were then able to correlate the rates of death with the amount of coffee that each cohort described drinking each day.

Additionally, "coffee drinkers were more likely than abstainers to drink alcohol and smoke, but the researchers took those factors into account, and coffee drinking seemed to cancel them out." 

So there you have it: a habit that so many of us enjoy that is suggested, once again, to actually be good for us. How often do we get news like that?

Feel free to reflect on it today at work, preferably while drinking yet another cup.