How much coffee do you drink? If the answer is “a lot,” we have some great news.
Over the past several years, we’ve seen study after study suggesting that coffee consumption has myriad health benefits.
Now a new study suggests the greatest benefit of all: Drinking more coffee leads to less chance of dying, period.
So, here’s the study, the results–and a modest proposal.
“Four cups a day”
This was no small study. Almost 20,000 people were involved. The researchers tracked their health over an entire decade.
The participants’ average age was 37.7 years old at the start, and over the course of those 10 years, 337 of the 20,000 study participants died (1.7 percent). The researchers then reviewed how much coffee every person in the study had reported drinking, and correlated consumption to the risk of dying, across all causes of death. Here’s what they found:
- Participants who drank “at least four cups of coffee per day” had a 64 percent lower risk of “all-cause mortality than those who never or almost never consumed coffee;”
- For every two additional cups of coffee people drank, they were 22 percent less likely to die than people who drank less than they did; and
- The benefits were even more pronounced among older people in the study. Participants who were over age 45 had a 30 percent lower risk of death for every two additional cups of coffee they drank each day.
Scientists surmised that the health benefit to drinking more coffee increases simply because the risk of death in general goes up with each year that we age.
“Coffee is one of the most widely consumed beverages around the world,” said study author Dr. Adela Navarro, a cardiologist at Hospital de Navarra, Pamplona, Spain, adding, “Our findings suggest that drinking four cups of coffee each day can be part of a healthy diet in healthy people.”
A $1,000 habit
For a lot of us, this will probably be news that reinforces habits that we’re already doing (whether we think it’s a good study or not). Kind of like when people read that a glass of red wine can help keep your heart healthy.
It’s not the first study to say that coffee has health benefits, though.
Researchers elsewhere say they’ve uncovered an association between increased coffee consumption and better heart health. And a Stanford study last year also suggested that coffee can counter age-related inflammation and cardiovascular disease.
Here’s the issue, however. Adding four cups of coffee to your daily routine isn’t necessarily all that cheap. And not everyone can afford it.
Suppose you work 220 days per year. Let’s not even count your first cup of coffee each day (and just roll that into your household grocery budget). And then let’s even suppose you can get a cup of coffee much less expensively than your local Starbucks–like for $1.50 a cup.
That still works out to just under $1,000 a year.
Maybe you’re fortunate, and a grand a year isn’t that big a deal. But for a lot of Americans it is. The median U.S. salary is just under $57,000. And if we’re getting technical, that $1,000 you’d be spending on coffee is all pre-tax.
So, what’s the solution? Your workplace needs to provide free, high-quality coffee, just as it should offer good lighting and ergonomic furniture. So, if you’re the boss, consider offering it. If you work for someone else, maybe show them this article.
The study was published in European Heart Journal.
A version of this article earlier appeared on Inc.com.
Bill Murphy Jr. is a writer and the founder of Understandably.com. Sign up for his daily newsletter here.