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Coffee May Help You Live Longer

Researchers love to study coffee! The latest study finds it could caffeine could help your memory. Or does it?
Researchers love to study coffee! The latest study finds it could caffeine could help your memory. Or does it?
HEALTH: Coffee May Help You Live Longer
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From VOA Learning English, this is the Health & Lifestyle report.

Today we have more good news for all our coffee drinkers around the world. Another new study finds that drinking coffee can help you live longer.

Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health recently discovered that drinking between three and five cups of coffee a day may prevent certain illnesses. They found that coffee can protect against heart disease, brain diseases, type 2 diabetes and suicide.

Walter Willett is a nutrition researcher at Harvard and co-author of the study. Willet says the findings extend to both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee – or decaf, as Americans often call it.

So, the health benefits come not just from the caffeine in coffee, but from the compounds in the beans.

Study methods

The large study of about 200,000 subjects included data from three ongoing studies. Subjects in the study had to answer questions about their coffee drinking habits every four years over a 30-year period.

Researchers found that moderate coffee drinking was linked with a reduced risk of death from many diseases. These diseases include cardiovascular disease, diabetes, neurological diseases such as Parkinson's, and suicide.

However, the researchers found no link between coffee drinking and cancer.

Researchers also considered other habits such as smoking, obesity, and how active the subjects were. They also looked at what kinds of food the subjects ate, as well as how much alcohol -- and what type of alcohol -- they drank.

They published their findings in the journal Circulation.

All things in moderation

This Harvard research adds to a growing body of evidence. This body of evidence finds drinking a moderate of coffee may have many health benefits, including a longer life. This is according to one of the researchers involved in the study.

Frank Hu is senior author of the study. He is also a professor of nutrition and epidemiology. He studies how food affects illness.

Hu adds that data from the study support the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Report. This report found that drinking a moderate amount of coffee can be part of a healthy diet.

But how much and when you drink coffee is important.

You may remember another study we reported on recently. That study said drinking coffee too late in the evening can disrupt your sleep.


Not everyone feels the recent Harvard study confirms anything.

The news organization NPR spoke with one expert who warns that not everyone reacts to coffee the same way. Andrew Maynard of Arizona State University told NPR that the health benefits documented in this new study are “small.”

Maynard says the study does not prove cause and effect between drinking coffee and living longer. He says the study points to an association, or link, between drinking coffee and living longer.

Even those involved in the research still have questions.

When NPR spoke with study co-author Walter Willett, he said he is not sure how coffee is linked to certain health benefits.

Willett says the take-home message – in other words, the important thing to learn – is that if you like coffee, do not feel guilty about drinking it in moderation. If you don’t like coffee, don’t feel you have to start drinking it to be healthy.

I’m Anna Matteo.

Matthew Hilburn wrote this story for VOA News. Anna Matteo adapted it for Learning English, adding additional information from other reports and coffee research. Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor.


Words in This Story

decaffeinated adj. not containing caffeine : having the caffeine removed

association n. a connection or relationship between things or people

subjectsn. a person (or animal) used in an experiment, study, etc.

bodyn. a group of things that are related or connected in some way​

moderate adj. average in size or amount : neither too much nor too little

moderation n. the avoidance of excess or extremes, especially in one's behavior or political opinions