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Study: Drinking Coffee May Lengthen Life

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Drinking a cup of java three times daily may decrease your risk of dying from common causes.

A new study reveals older adults who consume three or more cups of either caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee daily are 10 percent less likely to die from cardiovascular disease, respiratory illness, stroke, diabetes, infections, and injuries and accidents, than those who drink no coffee, according to a U.S. National Cancer Institute study of 402,260 men and women at 50 to 71 years of age, reported HealthDay News.

This particular study shows no link between caffeine and coffee's benefits. Caffeine was actually discovered by the Ethiopian ancestors of today's Oromo tribe, which today claims 30 million members—the single largest ethnicity in Ethiopia at roughly 34.49 percent of the population, according to the 2007 census. The Ethiopians were the first to point out the energizing effect of the native coffee plant, states the book The World of Caffeine: The Science and Culture of the World's Most Popular Drug.

The study, published in the May 17 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine—the largest ever done on this issue—observed the dietary habits of adults participating in the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study between 1995 and 1996. Researchers tracked their coffee intake and health until 2008 or death (by then, 52,000 participants had died).

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The study authors did not determine what ingredient in coffee is linked to its health benefits, nor did they establish a cause-and-effect relationship.

The team tried to examine coffee's association with health isolated from other factors. For instance, on average, coffee drinkers smoke more than non-coffee drinkers, noted study lead author Neal Freedman, an investigator with the division of cancer epidemiology and genetics at the U.S. National Cancer Institute in Rockville, Maryland. "And so when we first looked at the association, we found that coffee drinkers actually faced a higher risk of death, and it was only when we discounted smoking that we found the reverse relationship."

In addition, coffee drinkers tend to drink more alcohol, eat more red meat and exercise less than noncoffee-drinkers, reported

Coffee preparation also requires further exploration, Freedman explained: "Because a lot of people like drip coffee, but others have espresso or French press. And the beans can be roasted to different amounts. And each of these choices affects the compound. And we don't know whether this affects the association with disease as well."