Coffee With or Without Sugar Reduces UK Mortality

In a nation where tea is the primary warm beverage, Chen Mao, MD, of Southern Medical University in Guangzhou, China published an article in the Annals of Internal Medicine regarding the benefits of coffee consumption in the United Kingdom. The researchers accessed seven years of data from The UK Biobank, an ongoing compilation of health data.

The study followed 171,616 UK Biobank participants who did not have cardiovascular disease or cancer when the study began. These were adults with a mean age of 55.6 years. They completed an annual questionnaire which included questions about their frequency of coffee drinking and how many teaspoons of sugar, if any, they added. Mortality data was obtained from death certificates.

Almost 76% of the participants were coffee drinkers. Just over 55 percent drank unsweetened coffee, 14.3% added a teaspoon of sugar and 6.1 % used artificial sweeteners. The groups were followed for a median of seven years during which 3,177 deaths occurred including 1,725 malignancy related deaths and 628 cardiovascular deaths.

Individuals who drank 1 – 3.5 cups of coffee per day either plain or unsweetened were about 30% less likely to die of any cause during the study period. This benefit did not extend to those who added artificial sweeteners to their coffee.

The message from this study is clear. Coffee, in moderation, is probably not harmful and may be protective. Adding a teaspoon of sugar doesn’t hurt much in terms of mortality. Keep in mind, this study looked at adding a teaspoon of sugar or about 4 grams of sugar. The average coffee shop flavored coffee has about four or more times that amount of sugar per cup.

In other coffee related studies, drinking coffee in moderation has shown benefit in maintaining brain volume and slowing cognitive decline.

Coffee Consumption Lowers Mortality Risk

The online edition of the Annals of Internal Medicine, July 11, 2017 edition published an article from MJ Gunter using data from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition that concluded that coffee consumption lowered patient mortality. The study looked at more than 520,000 patients from 10 different countries that were followed for 16.4 years. In a side study they looked at a group of 14, 800 patients and examined the correlation between coffee consumption and biomarkers of liver inflammation, function and health.

Patients who drank the most coffee had statistically significant lower all-cause mortality than individuals who did not consume coffee.  Patients in the highest group of coffee consumption tended to have significantly lower risk for mortality related to digestive diseases. Women coffee drinkers had a lower risk for cerebrovascular disease mortality and circulatory disease mortality but were at higher risk for ovarian cancer related mortality.

The researchers concluded, “Coffee drinking was associated with reduced risk for death from various causes.”

I will enjoy my coffee even more now. If only I could lay off the bagels and donuts that go with it.