Lead author of the study Erikka Loftfield, a researcher at the US National Cancer Institute, said coffee contains more than 1000 chemical compounds including antioxidants, which help protect cells from damage.
The researchers identified the half a million participants through the United Kingdom biobank, an initiative to enroll approximately 9.2 million people, with long-term follow-up, and create a large database of individual, genetic sequencing to further understand the role of DNA on disease and treatment.
The study looked at patterns in an existing dataset, so it's hard to say whether coffee is responsible for a longer life or if it is just associated with one. The results suggested that people who drank two to five cups of coffee in a day were about 12% less likely to die than non-coffee-drinkers over the 10-year time period in the study. Most of the subjects (154,000) drank two to three cups per day and 10,000 of them drank at least eight cups every day!
Past studies have indicated an inverse association between drinking coffee and the risk of developing chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, Parkinson's and cancers of the liver, bowel, colon and endometrium.
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PHOTO:A woman drinks an ice coffee in this undated stock photo.
Because some people's genetics make them slower to metabolize caffeine, the researchers wanted to see if that made coffee consumption riskier for these individuals.
Go ahead and have that cup of coffee, maybe even several more. As Howard Bauchner, editor in chief of the medical journal JAMA and The JAMA Network, almost all studies about coffee are association studies.
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The study found it didn't matter how the coffee was drunk, with espresso style, instant and even decaffeinated coffee having the effect.
Dr. Robin Poole, a specialty registrar in public health at the University of Southampton who did not work on the study, told Newsweek the research is significant as it includes a very large sample of people from the general population, and data both on coffee consumption and genetics.
In other words while coffee drinking has some benefits especially in dealing with non-communicable diseases, your genes decide how well you metabolise caffeine. The meta-analysis - as these studies are called, found that drinking three to four cups of coffee daily could have a beneficial effect of the body rather than cause harm.
The second main way in which the study builds upon past research is that it took into account mortality incidence with respect to genetic differences in participants' metabolizing of caffeine.
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So, how much coffee is safe?