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Coffee can help you live longer. Really, two new studies agree

Nicole Villalpando
nvillalpando@statesman.com

Two new studies published this month in Annals of Internal Medicine will have coffee drinkers rejoicing. Both found that people who drank coffee  either with or without caffeine had a lower mortality rate than people who didn’t.

The first studied 521,330 people in 10 European countries during the course of about 16 years. Those people who drank the most coffee had lower death rates. In men and women, the study found less digestive diseases. In women, researchers found less heart disease and stroke, but more ovarian cancer.

A study out of Los Angeles and Hawaii of 185,855 African Americans, native Hawaiians, Japanese Americans, Latinos and whites beginning in the mid-1990s found less death from heart disease, cancer, respiratory disease, stroke, diabetes and kidney disease. The more coffee a day, the lower the mortality rate.

Before you pick up three grande mocha lattes at Starbucks a day, know that what’s in the coffee matters, too.

“I hesitate to encourage folks to drink more coffee, since most people load it with cream, sugar and syrups,” said Jill Frank an advance practice nurse and lead of Seton’s Integrative Therapies Program in a press release. “Drinking a caramel Frappuccino every day will definitely impact your health, but not in a good way.”

Skip the sugar and other additives and try drinking it black, Frank encourages.

These two studies are part of a long line of new coffee studies.

“Many recent studies have pointed to the benefits of coffee,” said Dr. Ryan Ince, MD, Seton Family of Doctors Plus Express Care in a press release. “I’ve read about cancer and liver damage prevention. This study looks to further support that.”

Why would coffee be so magical? The Annals of Internal Medicine wants to understand that in a recent editorial. Coffee has several bioactive substances, including polyphenols, diterpenes and melanoidins, but it’s not clear what role those play in reducing the disease rates.

Really, more research is needed. Ince suggests that for most healthy adults, “three to five cups per day or caffeine intake up to 400 milligram, coupled with proper diet and exercise could be a part of a healthy lifestyle,” the Seton press release said.

We’re been talking a lot about what to drink this in recent months, especially after the study linking diet soda consumption to Alzheimer’s and stroke and the death of a teen after consuming a high amount of caffeine. And we’ve told you that babies shouldn’t have juice and all kids should limit their juice intake, and pregnant women who drink soda can raise their child’s weight later on.

We’ve also written about whether sugar, agave, honey or sugar substitutes are best. 

What we do know is water is the best thing for you. If you don’t like it or your kids don’t want it, try it with some fruit slices like lemons and watermelon or mint in it. We’ve also been trying True Citrus flavor packets all summer. Each packet has 10 calories and uses crystalized lime, some cane sugar and some stevia leaf extract. It’s not bad, but we’d all rather be drinking that diet Dr Pepper or that iced vanilla latte.