Coffee, and especially espresso, may be really good for your health


2 new studies found a positive correlation between the consumption of coffee and a lower risk of early death risk and prostate cancer. Especially drinking espresso was found to have many beneficial health effects in prolonging our lives.

Studies showing that coffee has positive consequences on our health aren't new. A plethora of them were found years after years confirming the positive aspects of coffee consumption. While there are also quite negative effects, like increased anxiety, disruption of sleep patterns, increase of the acid reflux, it is not a surprise that the beneficial effects on our health are superior to the negative ones. But the proofs are stacking more and more in favor of a moderate coffee consumption.

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Espresso seems to be truly a boon for our health

A study in the Journal of Nutrition analyzed data of 20,487 adult men and women. The group was all aged 35-94, free from cardiovascular diseases or cancers, and were followed for a median period of 8,3 years. A quite thorough study then.

The Italian study tracked how many cups of espresso were drunk, and identified as "moderate consumption" those assuming 3-4 cups of Italian-style coffee (espresso, mostly a mix of Robusta and Arabica for those interested in the details of the type of coffee). This was seen to be the best number of daily cups to ingest associated with the lowest risks of all causes of mortality, especially cardiovascular disease related ones. The study identified a pro B-type natriuretic peptide (NTproBNP) as the mediator between coffee intake and the lowered causes of mortality. This study was focused on the consumption of coffee in Italy, thus espresso only. As these cups are relatively small compared to the doses of coffee drank elsewhere, it is important to have this in mind and not substitute a 30-40ml cup of coffee with a 150ml one and count them as equivalents.

This is not the first study that shows that a moderate but constant consumption of coffee can lower the risks of death. Previous ones were focused on about half a million of Europeans, others on 185,000 African-Americans, Native Americans, Hawaiians, Japanese-Americans and Latinos. Both these earlier studies found that drinking at least 3 cups of coffee per day reduced the risks of mortality across the board. Smaller amounts of coffee also were found helpful, but 3-4 cups were again and again identified as the sweet spot.

Researchers in Spain found that coffee was helpful in decreasing all causes of mortality in the aging population. People 45 or older, drinking 4 cups per day, carried a 64% lower risk of any type of mortality compared to those who never or rarely drank coffee. The study was carried over 10 years.

Even those subjects that are sensitive to caffeine were found to experience beneficial effects for their health by drinking coffee. A 2018 study by UK Biobank, conducted over a 10-year period, found that regular coffee consumption reduced the risks of all causes of mortality compared to those who aren’t coffee drinkers. Even if caffeine-sensitive, the benefits were shown to not be reduced. Which is encouraging news for those who avoid drinking coffee due to being too sensitive to the negative effects of the caffeine on their bodies.

And if this doesn't seem enough, in 2019 a meta-analysis of over 40 studies across the world, involving some 3,8 million people, showed that coffee drinkers were 15% less likely to die from any cause when drinking an average of 3,5 cups per day. The health effects raised to 17% less likely to die from cardiovascular diseases when drinking 2.5 cups, and 4% less likely to die from any cancer when drinking at least 2 cups. This all compared to people who don't drink any coffee.

All these studies sum up with the Italian one of Journal of Nutrition, adding more data to the power of espresso drinking to help us live longer.

Less chance of prostate cancer for heavy coffee drinkers

Speaking of cancers, not only a general reduction of the risks of early deaths was studied but a direct correlation between drinking several cups of coffee per day and a lower risk of developing prostate cancer was found in a published study by the online journal BMJ Open. Each additional cup of coffee drank per day was found associated with a reduction in relative risk of nearly 1%.

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men, and the sixth cause of cancer death in men as well. A pool of 16 different studies were collected data from: 15 reported an overall lower risk of prostate cancer, identifying 2-9 cups per day as the highest level of consumption, with less than 2 cups as the lowest one. These studies were carried out in North America, Europe and Japan. Data from over 1 million men (1,081,586) was included.

The higher coffee consumers were found to have 9% reduced risks of developing prostate cancer, with each additional daily cup added a 1% reduction in risk. Compared to the lowest intake of coffee, the highest intake was associated with a 7% lower risk of localised prostate cancer. Furthermore, a 12-16% lower risk was found for advanced and fatal prostate cancer, respectively.

Of course, there are plenty of differences in the type of coffee consumption that these studies reported. As they were conducted across the world, regional culture and habits played a big role in how much, how often, and when during the day the coffee was ingested. Brewing methods can also greatly differ across countries, which the scientists acknowledged may have skewed the results.

A possible logical explanation of coffee being capable of reducing the prostate cancer risks are its capabilities of improving glucose metabolism, which has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. This in turn affects sex hormone levels, which may influence the development and progress of prostate cancer among men.

If these associations between moderate coffee consumption are kept found to be true, as the increasingly high number of studies is leading us to believe, an encouragement to drink more coffee seems to be in order. Especially people not drinking any coffee may find it beneficial to start drinking 1-2 cups per day, to get some health benefits that otherwise they wouldn't have access to.

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