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More than four cups of coffee per day linked to higher death risk

Imbibing coffee is part of the daily routine for millions of people worldwide. New studies show that excessive coffee consumption may result in early death.

Researchers have found that heavy coffee drinking is linked to a higher risk of death.

Coffee is wildly popular in the United States. In fact, approximately 400 million cups of coffee are imbibed per day in this country. A study of more than 40,000 people discovered that consuming more than 28 cups of coffee per week (approximately four cups per day) was linked to a 21 percent higher mortality rate in men and women of all ages, and a 50 percent higher mortality rate in people younger than 55 years of age. No negative impacts were discovered in heavy coffee drinkers aged over 55.

Coffee has long been thought to be partly responsible for a number of chronic health conditions, although previous studies on coffee drinking in relation to deaths from all causes and deaths from coronary heart disease are unsatisfactory, and the findings are far from agreeable.

A research team looked into the impact of coffee drinking on deaths from all causes and deaths from cardiovascular disease in the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study. Between 1979 and 1998, approximately 45,000 people ranging in age from 20 to 87 years old took part in the study and handed in a medical history questionnaire evaluating lifestyle habits and medical history.

During the 17-year median follow-up period there were 2,512 deaths, 32 percent of these the result of cardiovascular disease. Those who drank greater amounts of coffee were more likely to smoke and had lower levels of cardio-respiratory fitness. Deaths from all causes and deaths from cardiovascular disease were recognized through the National Death Index or by examining death certificates.

Younger men revealed a progression towards higher mortality even at lower coffee consumption, but this became meaningful at approximately 28 cups per week where there was a 56 percent increase in death from all causes.

Coffee is an intricate combination of chemicals containing thousands of components. Previous research has discovered that coffee is one of the major points of supply for antioxidants in the diet. However, coffee also stimulates the release of epinephrine, inhibits insulin activity and increases blood pressure.

“Thus, all of these mechanisms could counterbalance one another. Research also suggests that heavy coffee drinkers may experience additional risk through potential genetic mechanisms or because of confounding through the deleterious effects of other risk factors with which coffee drinking is associated,” said lead authors, Drs. Junxiu Liu and Xuemei Sui of the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina.

The researchers warn that younger people should be weary of drinking more than 28 cups per week. However, they also note that further studies are needed in various populations to examine details concerning the impacts of long-term coffee consumption and alterations in coffee drinking over time on all-cause and cardiovascular disease death.

The study’s findings are described in greater detail in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings.