Health & Spirit

That extra cup of coffee can help you live longer, research shows

Don Sweeney, The Sacramento Bee on

Published in Health Advice

First, coffee was bad for you. Now it's good for you.

At least, that's the finding from a new meta-review of scientific literature on the topic in the British Medical Journal. The review shows that drinking three to four cups of black coffee a day can reduce a variety of health risks and can decrease your risk of death by 17 percent.

"Coffee consumption seems generally safe within usual levels of intake, with summary estimates indicating largest risk reduction for various health outcomes at three to four cups a day, and more likely to benefit health than harm," the report says.

The review linked coffee consumption to a lower risk of heart problems, diabetes, liver disease, dementia and some cancers. The study also found a 17 percent lower risk of death among subjects from all causes during the time they were studied, anywhere from 1 to 44 years in some studies.

There are a few caveats, however. Drinking more than four cups a day during pregnancy increases risks of low birth weight, pre-term birth and stillbirth, the review says. Women who drink more than four cups daily also are at greater risk for bone fractures, but not men.

Also, adding lots of calorie-rich creams, sugars or flavorings to your coffee can cancel out the health benefits and raise your risk of diabetes and other problems, the review says. Finally, the studies included in the review focused on 8 oz. cups of coffee per serving, not the "Tall" or "Grande" options available at most coffee shops.

The British Medical Journal review, published Tuesday by the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom, examined 201 studies of health effects of coffee intake. While in the past some doctors warned against drinking coffee, recent studies have uncovered a variety of potential health benefits to limited coffee consumption.


A 2015 Gallup poll found that 64 percent of Americans drink at least one cup of coffee daily.

A study found drinking 3 or 4 cups of coffee per day is more likely to benefit your health and could decrease your risk of death by 17 percent.

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