Well, conventional wisdom about coffee is total BS, according to two huge studies conducted in the U.S. and Europe and funded by some of the most reputable medical research organizations in the world.
Far from being a health risk, drinking coffee has now been proven--beyond all reasonable doubt--as a good way to help you live longer.
The European Study
A huge team of scientists funded by the European Commission Directorate-General for Health and Consumers and the International Agency for Research on Cancer tracked the coffee-drinking habits of 521,330 individuals in 10 European countries.
The results, published two days ago in the Annals of Internal Medicine, showed that "coffee drinking was associated with reduced risk for death from various causes [and that] this relationship did not vary by country."
If you're curious about the science, here are the full results (emphasis mine):
During a mean follow-up of 16.4 years, 41,693 deaths occurred. Compared with nonconsumers, participants in the highest quartile of coffee consumption had statistically significantly lower all-cause mortality (men: HR, 0.88 [95% CI, 0.82 to 0.95]; P for trend < 0.001; women: HR, 0.93 [CI, 0.87 to 0.98]; P for trend = 0.009). Inverse associations were also observed for digestive disease mortality for men (HR, 0.41 [CI, 0.32 to 0.54]; P for trend < 0.001) and women (HR, 0.60 [CI, 0.46 to 0.78]; P for trend < 0.001). Among women, there was a statistically significant inverse association of coffee drinking with circulatory disease mortality (HR, 0.78 [CI, 0.68 to 0.90]; P for trend < 0.001) and cerebrovascular disease mortality (HR, 0.70 [CI, 0.55 to 0.90]; P for trend = 0.002) and a positive association with ovarian cancer mortality (HR, 1.31 [CI, 1.07 to 1.61]; P for trend = 0.015). In the EPIC Biomarkers subcohort, higher coffee consumption was associated with lower serum alkaline phosphatase; alanine aminotransferase; aspartate aminotransferase; γ-glutamyltransferase; and, in women, C-reactive protein, lipoprotein(a), and glycated hemoglobin levels.
(Note: the term "inverse association" means fewer cases of the disease among coffee drinkers as opposed to abstainers.)
The American Study
Another huge team of scientists, this time funded by the National Cancer Institute, tracked the coffee-drinking habits of 185,855 African Americans, Native Hawaiians, Japanese Americans, Latinos, and whites aged 45 to 75 years, again for 16 years.
The results, also published two days ago in the Annals of Internal Medicine, showed that "higher consumption of coffee was associated with lower risk for death." Once again, here are the full results (emphasis mine):
58,397 participants died during 3,195,484 person-years of follow-up (average follow-up, 16.2 years). Compared with drinking no coffee, coffee consumption was associated with lower total mortality after adjustment for smoking and other potential confounders (1 cup per day: hazard ratio [HR], 0.88 [95% CI, 0.85 to 0.91]; 2 to 3 cups per day: HR, 0.82 [CI, 0.79 to 0.86]; ≥4 cups per day: HR, 0.82 [CI, 0.78 to 0.87]; P for trend < 0.001). Trends were similar between caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee. Significant inverse associations were observed in 4 ethnic groups; the association in Native Hawaiians did not reach statistical significance. Inverse associations were also seen in never-smokers, younger participants (<55 years), and those who had not previously reported a chronic disease. Among examined end points, inverse associations were observed for deaths due to heart disease, cancer, respiratory disease, stroke, diabetes, and kidney disease.
What's wonderful about these studies that, while many things that are "good for you" (like exercise or eating vegetables) are sort of a pain in the tuchus, drinking coffee (especially when brewed correctly) is one of the true pleasures of life.
Note that neither of these studies were funded by the coffee industry. Quite the contrary. The funders are among the most reputable scientific organizations in the world. The results were definitely not foregone conclusions.
So, if you haven't already done so, refill (or top off) your mug and drink a toast to science.