By many, coffee is considered one of the most miraculous discoveries humanity has ever made. Over the years, it has been praised as an elixir of vigor and energy and bashed as a toxic and harmful. In the 1600s, headlines claimed that coffee consumption can cure alcoholism, but leads to impotence in men. In the 1700s, its stimulant effect was praised by the press. A century later, it was claimed that coffee can make people go blind – given the popularity of the drink, this should have led to millions of vision-impaired people running around everywhere. Good Housekeeping Magazine claimed that “coffee stunts growth” in the late 1910s, and other media sources scared coffee drinkers by claiming that it causes heart attacks throughout the 1970s and the 1980s. The 2000s weren’t free of controversial claims about this popular drink – a 2001 study found that it increases the risk of urinary tract cancer and another one in 2010 spoke of the harm it does to the lungs.
However, overall the benefits of coffee consumption seem to have been recognized by the scientific community. Among the five health benefits of coffee, we find its antioxidant content, its positive effect on insulin balance, its positive effect on the heart, its improvement of brain function and its cancer-fighting properties. All this has led to the largest study to date conducted on coffee consumption and its effects, which has led to very good news for coffee lovers: it increases life span.
Two Studies About Coffee: Same Results
Two studies on the health effects of coffee, both with a large sample, were published in early July. One of them surveyed over 500,000 participants from 10 European countries, and the other one had over 180,000 participants — African Americans, Native Americans, Hawaiians, Japanese Americans, Latinos, and whites. Both of the studies have reached the same conclusion: drinking coffee increases the consumer’s life span.
Veronica Wendy Setiawan, associate professor of preventative medicine at USC’s Keck School of Medicine, who led the second study, pointed out that the group the study focused on consisted of many different people with different cultures, different diets, and very diverse lifestyles. Yet, there was a similar pattern: coffee consumption, which seems to reduce the risk of death by 18 percent compared to those who don’t drink coffee. The other study, with half a million participants, has shown that coffee consumption reduces the risk of digestive diseases, liver disease, circulatory diseases, and cancer, especially in women.
It’s The Coffee Itself
Both teams have studied large numbers of people from different countries, different cultures – and with different ways to prepare coffee. The beneficial effects were observed in all of them, which means that it’s not the way the coffee is prepared, but the coffee itself that is responsible for the benefits. “The fact that we saw the same relationships in different countries is kind of the implication that its something about coffee rather than its something about the way that coffee is prepared or the way it’s drunk,” said Marc Gunter, reader in cancer epidemiology and prevention at Imperial College’s School of Public Health in the UK.
Coffee is a very complex mixture of compounds, over 1,000 of them to be more exact, each one with its own effect on human health. The sum of all these is clearly beneficial, though – so, drink up! For the best effect, though, make sure to go easy on the sugar.