Coffee drinkers appear to have a lower risk of dying young, whether with or without sugar, however experts caution that the discovery may not be due to the liquid itself.
According to the British Coffee Association, over 98 million cups of coffee are consumed every day in the UK, while the National Coffee Association estimates that 517 million cups are consumed in the United States.
Coffee use has been linked to a lower risk of illnesses ranging from chronic liver disease to certain malignancies and even dementia in previous research.
People who drank a moderate amount of coffee every day, whether sweetened with sugar or not, had a decreased risk of dying throughout a seven-year period than those who did not, according to Chinese researchers.
Instant, ground, and decaffeinated coffee all yielded similar outcomes.
The study, which was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, is based on data from more than 171,000 UK BioBank participants. Since its inception in 2006, the UK BioBank has collected genetic, lifestyle, and health information from more than 500,000 people, including information on coffee consumption.
The researchers followed the individuals for a median of seven years beginning in 2009, during which time 3,177 people died.
After accounting for parameters such as age, gender, ethnicity, educational level, smoking status, quantity of physical activity, body mass index, and diet, the researchers discovered that persons who drank unsweetened coffee had the lowest risk of dying when compared to those who did not.
Those who drank 2.5 to 4.5 cups per day had the biggest reduction, with a 29 percent lower chance of mortality.
Coffee sweetened with sugar was also linked to a lower risk of death, at least for those who drank 1.5 to 3.5 cups per day. For those who used artificial sweeteners, the pattern was less obvious.
The study, on the other hand, only asked participants once about their coffee use and other behaviors, relying on self-reporting. The majority of individuals who used sugar added only a tablespoon to their drink, so it’s unclear if the findings would hold true for high-sugar specialty coffees.
While the findings were intriguing, Naveed Sattar, a professor of metabolic medicine at the University of Glasgow who was not involved in the study, cautioned that they were not conclusive.
“Because this new study is observational, these conclusions are far from definitive,” he said.
“This is because coffee consumers are often wealthier and live longer lives than non-drinkers, and I’m not confident that observational studies can overcome these characteristics.” Prof Sattar went on to say that there was no genetic evidence linking coffee to any significant health advantages.
“I’d advise them to stick to coffee or tea, preferably without sugar, which most people can adjust to, and to do all the other things we know keep you healthy – move more, eat better, and sleep better,” she says.
Dr. Christina Wee, the journal’s deputy editor, acknowledged that the findings were not conclusive in an accompanying editorial. However, she went on to say that drinking coffee, whether unsweetened or with a small bit of sugar, did not appear to be hazardous to most people.
“So drink up – but while additional evidence brews, it would be good to avoid too many caramel macchiatos,” she added.