Study: Heavy coffee drinking in people under 55 linked to early death

Georgiann Caruso and Elizabeth Landau | 8/20/2013, 6 a.m.
When you make coffee with breakfast, or grab a to-go cup at a cafe before work, or raid your office's ...

— Lavie still suggests that heavy coffee drinkers scale back on their consumption, however.

"I think that if I find that having four or more cups of coffee per day looks like it's associated with higher mortality, even though I don't know that it's for sure due to the coffee, to me that's enough reason to me to try and keep my coffee to below four a day."

The authors did not separate decaf coffee from regular, but "most people report they drink regular," added Dr. Xuemei Sui, study co-author from the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina.

They also did not explore what people were adding to their coffees, so they didn't separate out whether the addition of sweeteners or milk had any effect on death risk.

But what about coffee benefits

There is, on the other hand, evidence from studies on type II diabetes suggesting that coffee can be good.

According to a 2009 meta-analysis, the risk of type II diabetes goes down with each cup of coffee consumed daily. Additionally, a 2007 meta-analysis found a correlation between increased coffee consumption and lower risk of liver cancer.

Such research is still not persuasive enough to tell anyone who doesn't already drink coffee to start.

How much coffee do you drink?

"A 20 ounce cup, we would count that as two and a half cups," Lavie added.

For perspective, here are some measurements of that cup o' Joe you like to enjoy:

A short Starbucks coffee is 8 ounces. A tall is 12 ounces. A grande is 16 ounces, or two cups of coffee. Make it a venti and you've consumed 20 ounces.

Meanwhile, at Dunkin' Donuts, a small cup of coffee is 10 ounces. A medium contains 14. Order a large and you'll get ounces 20 ounces and XL, 24 ounces, or three cups of coffee.

Experts told CNN in 2012 that they would not make a public health recommendation concerning coffee because there just isn't enough solid evidence to do so.

"If you consume coffee, enjoy it," Dr. Donald Hensrud of the Mayo Clinic said. "But I wouldn't necessarily recommend taking it up if you don't like it."

A lot of people already consider it a regular part of their lives. For nearly two-thirds of Americans, the daily coffee routine is just habit.

Get out of bed. Make coffee. Start your work day.

Have more coffee. Repeat. Hope it won't kill you.


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