Does coffee affect our life expectancy?

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Sian Porter, RD MBDA, Consultant Dietitian, Spokesperson for The British Dietetic Association

Many things can impact our life expectancy, but could coffee be one of them? This question formed the basis for the roundtable I chaired on behalf of ISIC.

Life expectancy provides an indication of health status across different population groups. Many factors can impact life expectancy, including gender, age, diet, genetics and disease risk. Life expectancy data can be used to compare health across different countries, cultures and socio-economic groups and can be expressed as the average number of years that an individual is expected to live; ‘period life’ expectancy uses mortality rates from a single year or group of years and assumes that those rates apply throughout the remainder of a person’s life1,2.

At the roundtable, delegates from six European countries met to discuss the most recent research into coffee and life expectancy and the potential mechanisms behind an association with reduced risk of all-cause mortality. Speaker Professor Miguel Martínez-González (University of Navarra, Spain; Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health) presented unpublished original research studying a cohort of almost 20,000 participants over an average of ten years. Professor Martínez-González’s research suggests that coffee consumption at intakes of 3-6 cups of coffee a day reduces all-cause mortality.

A number of meta-analyses have considered the impact of coffee consumption on all-cause mortality, as well as specific disease mortality statistics, such as risk of cancer or cardiovascular disease. We discussed a variety of research at the roundtable looking at this topic. Outlined below are some of the key research findings we noted:

  • Meta-analyses have suggested that coffee consumption versus no coffee consumption is associated with an up to 17% risk reduction of all-cause mortality3-8
  • A study by Imperial College London and IARC found that participants with the highest consumption of coffee had a lower risk of all-causes of death9
  • A study from the US found that participants who consumed a cup of coffee a day were 12% less likely to die compared to those who didn’t drink coffee10

I also outlined the importance of using appropriate language when communicating scientific research findings to the general public particularly with epidemiological studies such as these, with healthcare professionals and dieticians best placed to help translate scientific findings into user-friendly language. The roundtable agreed that the research on coffee consumption and all-cause mortality provides valuable evidence-based information about the role of coffee in the diet. In considering specific advice on coffee intake, we agreed that coffee beverages could be part of a healthy, balanced diet and lifestyle for most people, and felt this information was important to share more widely11-18. The European Food Safety Authority advises on caffeine intakes in the population that 400mg of caffeine per day is fine for healthy adults, with single doses of caffeine of up to 200mg, however pregnant women should limit their caffeine intake to 200mg per day.

At the roundtable we concluded that the growing body of research on coffee consumption and all-cause mortality presents new data for consideration, although more evidence is needed to understand the association and mechanisms behind the results.

To read the roundtable report titled, ‘Coffee, caffeine, mortality and life expectancy’, click here.

References

  1. Office for National Statistics (2017) Period and Cohort Life Expectancy explained. Available at: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/lifeexpectancies/methodologies/periodandcohortlifeexpectancyexplained
  2. Chiang C.L. Lifetable and its application. New York: Robert E. Krieger; 1984
  3. Malerba S. et al. (2013) A meta-analysis of prospective studies of coffee consumption and mortality for all causes, cancers and cardiovascular diseases. Eur J Epidemiol, 28(7):527-39.
  4. Je Y., Giovannucci E. (2014) Coffee consumption and total mortality: a meta-analysis of twenty prospective cohort studies. Br J Nutr, 111(7):1162-73.
  5. Crippa A. et al. (2014) Coffee consumption and mortality from all causes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer: a dose-response meta-analysis. Am J Epidemiol, 180(8):763-75.
  6. Zhao Y. et al. (2015) Association of coffee drinking with all-cause mortality: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Public Health Nutr, 18(7):1282-91.
  7. Grosso G. et al. (2016) Coffee consumption and mortality in three Eastern European countries: results from the HAPIEE (Health, Alcohol and Psychosocial factors In Eastern Europe) study. Eur J Epidemiol, 31(12):1191-1205.
  8. Poole R. et al. (2017) Coffee consumption and health: umbrella review of meta-analyses of multiple health outcomes. BMJ, 359:j5024.
  9. Gunter, M.J. et al (2017) Coffee drinking and mortality in 10 European countries. Ann Int Med, 167(4):236-24.
  10. Song-Yi Park et al. Association of Coffee Consumption With Total and Cause-Specific Mortality Among Nonwhite Populations. Ann Int Med, 10.7326/M16-2472.
  11. Malerba S. et al. (2013) A meta-analysis of prospective studies of coffee consumption and mortality for all causes, cancers and cardiovascular diseases. Eur J Epidemiol, 28(7):527–39.
  12. Je Y. & Giovannucci E. (2014) Coffee consumption and total mortality: a meta-analysis of twenty prospective cohort studies. Br J Nutr, 111(7):1162–73.
  13. Crippa A. et al. (2014) Coffee consumption and mortality from all causes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer: a doseresponse meta-analysis. Am J Epidemiol, 180(8):763–75.
  14. Zhao Y. et al. (2015) Association of coffee drinking with all-cause mortality: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Public Health Nutr, 18(7):1282–91.
  15. Grosso G. et al. (2016) Coffee consumption and mortality in three Eastern European countries: results from the HAPIEE (Health, Alcohol and Psychosocial factors In Eastern Europe) study. Eur J Epidemiol. 31(12):1191–1205.
  16. Poole R. et al. (2017) Coffee consumption and health: umbrella review of meta-analyses of multiple health outcomes. BMJ, 359:j5024.
  17. Gunter, M.J. et al (2017) Coffee drinking and mortality in 10 European countries, Ann Int Med, 167(4):236-24.
  18. -Y. Park et al. (2017) Association of Coffee Consumption With Total and Cause-Specific Mortality Among Non-white Populations. Ann Int Med, 167(4):228–235.

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