Drink coffee and live longer > As children we were told an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but the new well-being mantra is that coffee will give you health and longevity. We were reminded of this advice following our last Posting, when a client emailed to say caffeine is the ingredient needed to live longer.
But is drinking coffee the real secret for longevity? Claims that caffeine has health benefits are nothing new, with numerous research papers advocating its use. For example, a few years ago the New England Journal of Medicine reported rather pompously that there seems to be an “inverse association between coffee drinking and total and cause-specific mortality.” In layman’s terms this means scientists looked at individuals over a period of time and noticed an association between drinking coffee and a longer life. However, because this was only an observational study*, the researchers added, “Whether this was a causal or an associational finding cannot be determined from our data.” Or in layman’s terms – ‘it is anyone’s guess‘!
Meanwhile a survey carried out by the Harvard University’s School of Public Health found that non-smokers who drank three to five cups of coffee were 37% less likely to die from a neurodegenerative disease like Parkinson’s, and 36% less likely to die from suicide, compared to non-java drinkers. However, their researchers warned, “We are not advocating coffee as a strategy for prevention of the chronic diseases because coffee drinking is individual behaviour and there are other factors in the diet that have a bigger effect. People should also be aware of the amount of added sugar to coffee drinks which can become a problem.” Or basically …. “We don’t know‘!
Such black and white health claims should ring alarm bells, especially when other researchers are warning that java raises the risk of heart disease. A quick web search will throw up millions of pages of contradictory research and views, so ultimately believe whatever justifies your lifestyle.
As far as longevity is concerned, there is certainly some wishful thinking going on. As you will need to live longer to read all this research, we will let you into a secret. Tonic therapists know the real elixir of life – red wine. After all more than 228 million web pages can’t be wrong, can they …..
Footnote > * An observational study is where no intervention is introduced, where subjects are not randomised, where researchers just look at the link between an exposure to something and a certain outcome.