The researchers report in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine that people who consumed a cup of coffee a day were 12 percent less likely to die earlier compared to those who didn't drink coffee. This association was even stronger for those who drank two to three cups a day -- 18 percent reduced chance of death.
Lower mortality was present regardless of whether people drank regular or decaffeinated coffee, suggesting the association is not tied to caffeine.
Drinking coffee was also found to be associated with a lower risk of death due to heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, and respiratory and kidney disease. The study participants were followed up on the average for 16 years.
Claimed to be the largest of its kind, the study had ethnically diverse participants who included African-Americans, Japanese-Americans, Latinos and whites. "Such investigations are important because lifestyle patterns and disease risks can vary substantially across racial and ethnic backgrounds, and findings in one group may not necessarily apply to others."
Since the association (between coffee drinking and longer life) was seen in four different ethnicities, it is safe to say the results apply to other groups, the authors claim. "Seeing a similar pattern across four different populations gives stronger biological backing to the argument that coffee is good for you whether you are white, African-American, Latino or Asian."
According to the authors, although this study does not show what chemicals in coffee may have this beneficial effect, it is clear that coffee "can be incorporated into a healthy diet and lifestyle".
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