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Coffee contains not just caffeine but also many polyphenols (such as diterpenes and chlorogenic acids) that may have a synergistic effect on health outcomes and all-cause mortality. However, while some studies associated coffee intake with a reduction in health risk, the literature is inconsistent. Does coffee help you live longer?

The study

This cohort study assessed the association between coffee intake and all-cause, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality over 18 years in 1,567 adults in Spain. Using baseline data on caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee intake from a validated food questionnaire filled in 1994, it trichotomized the participants as nondrinkers, drinkers of ≤1 cup/day, or drinkers >1 cup/day. It took into account various sociodemographic and lifestyle variables (such as adherence to a Mediterranean diet) that could affect the measured outcomes.

The results

Over the 18 years covered by the study, 317 people died, 115 from cardiovascular disease and 82 from cancer.

Compared to no coffee, ≤1 cup/day was associated with a 27% lower risk of all-cause mortality, whereas >1 cup/day was associated with a 44% lower risk of all-cause mortality and a 59% lower risk of cancer mortality. No association was found with cardiovascular mortality.

Compared to no coffee, caffeinated coffee was associated with a lower risk of all-cause mortality (−34% at 12 years, −41% at 18 years). No association was found for decaffeinated coffee.


The results of the present study are consistent with those of previous meta-analyses indicating that coffee drinkers tend to live longer than nondrinkers.[1][2][3][4] The present study stands out, however, as it observed a benefit among adults of a Mediterranean country, where adherence to a Mediterranean diet pattern may already reduce mortality.

The mechanisms by which coffee reduces mortality are unknown. While this study suggests that caffeine drives the effect (since no association was found for decaffeinated coffee), previous research suggests that other compounds in coffee are also responsible, thanks to their antioxidant properties or their effect on the gut microbiota.[5]

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This Study Summary was published on July 2, 2021.