- The Washington Times - Monday, July 2, 2018

A new study links drinking up to eight cups of coffee per day with a decreased risk of early death, and in particular from cancer and heart disease.

It’s the largest number of daily cups of coffee recommended so far by scientists, who have amassed a body of research showing the protective health benefits of the caffeinated brew.

The latest research was conduced by scientists at the National Cancer Institute and published Monday in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine.



“This study provides further evidence that coffee drinking can be part of a healthy diet and offers reassurance to coffee drinkers,” the researchers wrote.

An estimated 54 percent of Americans over the age of 18 drink coffee every single day, according to data from the National Coffee Association.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture wrote in its 2015 dietary guidelines that between three to five cups of coffee per day (or up to 400 milligrams a day) is not associated with long-term health risks.

Quite the opposite, they cite a number of vigorous research studies showing positive health benefits — decrease risk for Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and specific cancers.

More attention should be paid to added cream, sugar or flavored syrups that people are likely to enjoy with their ritual cup, which can contribute greatly to added calories, they said.

The latest research is impressive both in its scope, it followed over 500,000 people for 10 years, and its detail — looking at available full genome sequencing to see how differences in how people metabolize caffeine impacted their health risks.

Research subjects came from the U.K. biobank, an initiative to enroll about 9.2 million people, with long-term follow-up, and already has amassed a database of full-genome sequencing on 400,000 people.

Of the study cohort, about 78 percent were coffee drinkers and in the end, there were 14,225 deaths. These included from cancer (58 percent), cardiovascular disease (20 percent) and respiratory disease (4 percent).

In the paper, the authors write that they observed an inverse association for coffee drinkers with all-cancer and all-cardiovascular disease deaths — people who drank between one and eight cups of coffee per day were less likely to have died from these conditions.

A slightly stronger association was observed in people who drink ground coffee compared to instant or decaf, the authors wrote. Yet there was little difference among people who metabolize caffeine faster or slower, leading the researchers to think that protective compounds in coffee play a larger role than the drawbacks of caffeine.

Earlier research has shown that drinking coffee can reduce inflammation, improve insulin sensitivity, increase blood flow and improve liver functioning, the authors wrote.

“I think it’s really important that they looked at a number of things, not just the amount of coffee, but they also looked at people who have genetic differences,” said Alice Bender, director of Nutrition Programs at the American Institute for Cancer Research.

The institute advocates for research into how diet and lifestyle contributes to preventable cancers, having supported research that found coffee plays an important role against endometrial and liver cancer.

“Coffee is a plant food, that in and of itself indicates that there are going to be some healthful constituents to that plant,” Ms. Bender said.

Yet not all coffee health news is accepted easily.

In California, for example, a number of coffee products are expected to carry warning labels that the product contains a known carcinogenic, acrylamide, following a court ruling in March.

Acrylamide is produced during certain food production, like roasting coffee beans or frying starchy foods like potatoes, but the American Cancer Society said current evidence is inconclusive in how acrylamide relates to cancer in humans.

The ruling came from a lawsuit filed in 2010 by the Council for Education and Research on Toxics, which said that coffee companies were violating California’s Proposition 65, which requires retailers to provide warning labels on chemicals in products that are harmful.

Ms. Bender said putting warning labels on coffee confuses consumers and reduces the seriousness of other adverse-chemical warnings.

“I think it’s confusing for consumers to see those labels on so many products that it starts to dilute the message of how serious some of the carcinogenic things — like tobacco is — compared to something like coffee, where there really is no evidence of that at all,” she said.

• Laura Kelly can be reached at lkelly@washingtontimes.com.

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