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How Coffee Boosts Your Morning And Maybe Your Life


Some good news for coffee drinkers.

A Harvard study published in the journal Circulation found people who drink three to five cups a day are less likely to die from a range of diseases, from diabetes to heart disease.

Dr. Juzar Lokhandwala, an interventional cardiologist at Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital, explains.

Highlights from Dr. Lokhandwala’s interview:

Is there a direct cause and effect from the coffee? It (study) can’t prove a cause and effect because it’s an observational study. So we don’t if it is something about the people that drank coffee that made them live longer versus the coffee itself. (The study found) a non-linear relationship between the use of coffee and your chances of dying. So that means that the overall study did find the people that drank coffee lived longer, but it wasn’t proportional to the amount of coffee they drank. If they drank one cup versus five cups, it didn’t make a difference. It also didn’t make a difference if it was caffeinated or decaf, and they think that was because of the effects of smoking. So they found that people who tend to drink coffee more tended to smoke more. And so that somehow takes away from the beneficial effects of coffee, if you will, at higher levels. So that they found that people who drink more than five cups of coffee a day, about 80 percent of them were smoking.”

People who don’t smoke? “They had an incremental benefit. People who didn’t smoke. People who drank one cup of coffee per day may have had a ten percent reduction in the death rate, but if you went up to three to five cups of coffee per day it was a 15 percent reduction in the death rate. If it went to beyond five, they found there was no benefit in mortality.”

Health benefits of coffee: “The coffee does have some substances other than caffeine that may slowdown the absorption of glucose from the intestines, it may reduce the blood sugar spike after eating. There’s also some substances that may reduce the release of glucose from the liver. Effectively, caffeine has shown to have a beneficial effect on the development of diabetes. That means people that drink coffee may have a slightly lesser chance of developing diabetes.”

What to take from the study: “I don’t think the study would make you want to start drinking coffee. I think it clearly says people that drink coffee may do so without fear of it being detrimental to them. And it may well be part of a healthy lifestyle.”

For more information:

Study in Circulation: Association of Coffee Consumption 

NBC: Coffee Consumption and Health

Sam Baker is KERA's senior editor and local host for Morning Edition. The native of Beaumont, Texas, also edits and produces radio commentaries and Vital Signs, a series that's part of the station's Breakthroughs initiative. He also was the longtime host of KERA 13’s Emmy Award-winning public affairs program On the Record. He also won an Emmy in 2008 for KERA’s Sharing the Power: A Voter’s Voice Special, and has earned honors from the Associated Press and the Public Radio News Directors Inc.