For thousands of years, coffee has been one of the two or three most popular beverages on earth. But it’s only recently that scientists are figuring out that the drink has notable health benefits. In one large-scale epidemiological study from last year, researchers primarily at the National Cancer Institute parsed health information from more than 400,000 volunteers, ages 50 to 71, who were free of major diseases at the study’s start in 1995. By 2008, more than 50,000 of the participants had died. But men who reported drinking two or three cups of coffee a day were 10 percent less likely to have died than those who didn’t drink coffee, while women drinking the same amount had 13 percent less risk of dying during the study. It’s not clear exactly what coffee had to do with their longevity, but the correlation is striking.
Other recent studies have linked moderate coffee drinking — the equivalent of three or four 5-ounce cups of coffee a day or a single venti-size Starbucks — with more specific advantages: a reduction in the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, basal cell carcinoma (the most common skin cancer), prostate cancer, oral cancer and breast cancer recurrence…
There’s still much to be learned about the effects of coffee…It is also unclear whether caffeine by itself provides the benefits associated with coffee drinking or if coffee contains other valuable ingredients…Nor is there any evidence that mixing caffeine with large amounts of sugar, as in energy drinks, is healthful. But a cup or three of coffee “has been popular for a long, long time,” Dr. Gregory Freund says, “and there’s probably good reasons for that.”
I went through one terrible stretch of a couple of years on the road without coffee. I’d stopped because preliminary indications in a prestigious university study suggested a potential link between pancreatic cancer and coffee. And I’d lost an acquaintance just three weeks after diagnosis.
Fortunately, they completed the study and said, “Nope. No connection.”
That was 45 years ago. I love my coffee. I consider it a normal part of my Mediterranean diet. 🙂