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Study reveals link between coffee and low mortality

July 11, 2017

A study published in the July 11 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine suggests that people who drink coffee appear to have a longer life-span.

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According to the study, coffee consumption was related to low mortality risk of African-Americans, Japanese-Americans, Latinos, and whites, due to the association of coffee with diseases like cancer, stroke, diabetes, and, other heart, respiratory and kidney diseases.

Researchers used data from an ongoing Multiethnic Cohort Study, which is a collaborative study done by the University of Hawaii Cancer Center and the Keck School of Medicine. With more than 215,000 participants, this Multiethnic Cohort Study marks itself as the most ethnically diverse study that examines lifestyle risk factors that might lead to cancer.

In comparison with people who did not drink coffee, people who drank coffee were seen 12% less probable to die from the coffee-associated diseases. For those who consume 2 to 3 cups of coffee daily, there was an even stronger association of 18% less chance of death.

Veronica W. Setiawan, lead author of the study and an associate professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC commented that lower mortality was present regardless of whether people drank regular or decaffeinated coffee, suggesting the association is not tied to caffeine.

She added: “We cannot say drinking coffee will prolong your life, but we see an association. If you like to drink coffee, drink up! If you’re not a coffee drinker, then you need to consider if you should start.”

According to Setiawan, it is safe to say the results apply to other groups as the association was seen in four different ethnicities. “This study includes minorities who have very different lifestyles”.

She continued:

Seeing a similar pattern across different populations gives stronger biological backing to the argument that coffee is good for you whether you are white, African-American, Latino or Asian”.

Prior research by the University of Southern California and others pointed out that drinking coffee is associated with reduced risk of several types of cancer, diabetes, liver disease, Parkinson’s disease, and other chronic diseases.

Setiawan says that because of the number of people who enjoy or depend upon coffee, any positive effects from drinking this beverage are far-reaching. According to the report of the National Coffee Association, about 62 percent of Americans drink coffee daily (a 5% increase from 2016).

“Coffee contains a lot of antioxidants and phenolic compounds that play an important role in cancer prevention”, says Setiawan, who has the habit of drinking coffee. “Although this study does not show causation or point to what chemicals in coffee may have this ‘elixir effect,’ it is clear that coffee can be incorporated into a healthy diet and lifestyle.”

USC, as a research institution, has scientists from various disciplines working to find a cure for cancer and better ways for people to manage the disease. The Los Angeles Cancer Surveillance Program,a state-mandated database which provides scientists with essential statistics on cancer for a diverse population, is managed by the Keck School of Medicine and USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Researchers from the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center have found that the risk of colorectal cancer is lowered by drinking coffee. Whereas, according to a World Health Organization panel of scientists that included Mariana Stern from the Keck School of Medicine, drinking piping hot coffee or beverages can be a possible cause of cancer in the esophagus.

“Some people worry drinking coffee can be bad for you because it might increase the risk of heart disease, stunt growth or lead to stomach ulcers and heartburn,” Setiawan said. “But research on coffee have mostly shown no harm to people’s health.”

WHO, after labeling coffee a carcinogen linked to bladder cancer for 25 years, has announced in the previous year that drinking coffee reduces the risk for liver and uterine cancer.

In the study, data of 185,855 African-Americans (17 %), Native Hawaiians (7 %), Japanese-Americans (29 %), Latinos (22 %) and whites (25 %) who were 45 to 75 years old at the time of recruitment were examined. Questionnaires on diet, lifestyle, family and personal medical history were provided to them.

When entering the study, the participants reported details like the habit of coffee drinking, whether they consume caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee and updated them every five years, checking one of nine boxes that ranged from “never or hardly ever” to “4 or more cups daily. The follow-up was done for an average period of 16 years.

Participants who did not drink coffee were 16%, while 31% drank a cup per day. 25% of them drank 2 to 3 cups daily and 7% drank four and more cups in a day. The remaining 21% of the participants had an irregular habit of coffee consumption.

58,397 participants (31%) died during the course of the study for which the major causes are the cardiovascular disease (36%) and cancer (31%).

Adjustment in data was done for age, sex, ethnicity, smoking habits, education, preexisting disease, vigorous physical exercise, and alcohol consumption.

Prior research done by Setiawan found that the risk of cancer and chronic liver disease is reduced by coffee. Currently, she is examining the ways of association of coffee with the risk of developing specific cancers.

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