With more than half of Americans drinking coffee on a daily basis, it is no wonder researchers are interested in how the beverage impacts health. Now, a new study adds to growing evidence that coffee is good for us, finding that consuming four to five cups daily may reduce the risk of early death – even for those who drink decaf.

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This latest study offers more evidence that coffee may lower risk of death from a number of causes.

Published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, the study is the latest in a number of coffee-related studies conducted by Dr. Erikka Loftfield, of the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics at the National Cancer Institute.

Medical News Today reported on one such study in January, in which Dr. Loftfield and colleagues revealed how drinking four cups of coffee daily may lower the risk of melanoma by 20%.

While this latest research did not find any link between coffee consumption and cancer mortality, it does suggest that drinking the beverage regularly could lower the risk of death from a number of causes, including heart disease and diabetes.

To reach their findings, Dr. Loftfield and her team analyzed the self-reported coffee drinking habits and health of 90,317 adults who joined the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial between 1998-2001. Participants were free of cancer and had no history of cardiovascular disease at baseline.

During an average 10 years of follow-up, 8,718 deaths occurred.

Compared with individuals who did not drink coffee, those who consumed four to five cups daily had the lowest risk of death from various causes, including diabetes, heart disease, respiratory diseases, influenza and suicide.

Fast facts about coffee
  • Americans consume an average of 3.1 cups of coffee daily
  • Around 65% of Americans enjoy their coffee with breakfast
  • Approximately $40 billion is spent on coffee in the US every year.

Learn more about coffee

Those who consumed two to three cups of coffee daily also had a lower risk of death, as did individuals who drank decaffeinated coffee or consumed coffee additives.

Additionally, the researchers found that consuming up to five cups of coffee daily – the equivalent to 400 mg of caffeine – was not linked to any long-term health risks.

While past research has linked coffee consumption to lower risk of certain cancers, such as liver cancer, this study identified no link between coffee drinking and overall cancer mortality. “This may be because coffee reduces mortality risk for some cancers but not others,” Dr. Loftfield told Reuters Health.

The study findings remained after the team accounted for a number of influential factors, including smoking status, alcohol consumption and diet.

The jury is still out on exactly how coffee consumption lowers risk of death, but the researchers hypothesize the beverage “may reduce mortality risk by favorably affecting inflammation, lung function, insulin sensitivity and depression.”

This latest research supports another study reported by MNT last month, which found individuals who drink less than five cups of coffee daily may be at lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, neurological disease, type 2 diabetes and suicide.

The other potential health benefits and risks of coffee and other sources of caffeine were discussed in a Spotlight feature last year.