For many of us, the day does not start until there are at least eight ounces of piping hot coffee coursing through our veins—and, if we’re being honest, getting through a full day will require at least a couple more java top-ups. But high levels of coffee consumption usually invites comments from concerned family and friends: “Are you sure you should be drinking that much caffeine? Aren’t you worried that your heart will explode?”
But never fear, fellow coffee junkies: Recently, a new study found that people who drank at least four cups of coffee a day had a 64 percent lower risk of death than those who avoided coffee more regularly. If that’s not permission to keep enjoying your regular latte, we’re not sure what is.
The researchers analyzed the habits of nearly 20,000 people over the course of a decade. Interestingly, the association between longevity and coffee drinking was especially strong for those over age 45, with their risk of death dropping by 30 percent for every two additional cups of coffee the person drank each day. (This makes the coffee pot sound like some sort of fountain of youth!)
But what do other studies have to say about coffee’s effect on the life span?
Earlier this summer, two other large studies actually found similar results. One European study, which tracked half a million people in 10 different countries, found that those who drank over three cups of coffee a day tended to live longer lives than their non-coffee-drinking counterparts. The second study, which looked at nearly 200,000 participants in the United States, found that people who drank two to three cups of coffee a day saw an 18 percent reduced risk of death.
Of course, there’s one thing to keep in mind when it comes to these studies: They only prove correlation, not causation. So while, yes, coffee drinking seems linked to longevity, it could be that people who drink coffee are also more likely to exercise or watch what they eat more carefully. Ee still don’t know whether coffee drinking causes longevity, or whether there’s a another lifestyle choice that coffee drinkers have in common that reduces the risk of death.
Essentially, there’s not enough evidence out there to start sipping coffee if you’re not already a fan of it—but if you do love it, ignore the naysayers and keep enjoying your magical, life-giving latte.