Do You Drink Too Much Coffee?

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Some people can’t function without coffee — but heavy drinkers have a higher risk of death, new research says.

The study, published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, suggests having four or fewer cups (8 ounces each) a day if you are under age 55. Drinking more than that was associated with a “56 percent increased risk of death from all causes,” NPR says. For women, it was significantly higher — more than a 200 percent increase.

The results are puzzling, though.

While the study was both large and long — including more than 40,000 people over three decades — it seems to contradict other recent research that suggests drinking up to six cups a day poses no additional risk, NPR says. Recent research also suggests that coffee drinking does not increase the risk of death from heart disease, stroke or cancer, and that having some coffee may even provide health benefits.

Here are some other factors to consider when weighing this particular study:

  • While people as old as 87 participated in the research, the study concluded that people over 55 had no increased death risk from heavy coffee drinking. It’s not clear why.
  • The study may not have controlled well for smoking, one expert says. The results show heavy coffee drinkers were also likely to be heavy smokers, so the increased risk may have little to do with coffee.
  • While the study uses data collected for more than 30 years (from 1971 to 2002), the average participant was followed for 17 years and only asked once, ever, about coffee consumption. Their habits may have changed from that interview, but the study assumed they hadn’t.

So what’s the bottom line for this problematic study? At the very least, it’s another data point suggesting that a little daily coffee is OK.

How much do you have? Spill your coffee consumption on our Facebook page.

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Comments & discussion

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  • Jcatz4

    Every time I think I know how to play the game, they change the rules!!

  • Jcatz4

    OK – so I just read the article again and since I’m about to turn 70 maybe it’s alright to drink my 3 mugs (abt. 10ozs. ea.) in the morning. I’m a woman and I haven’t smoked since Jan. 1982.

  • marketfog

    I don’t believe it is possible to make generalizations about coffee. Just like all our food products, everything has changed. The increasing world population and the decrease in malnutrition means that foods are planted in areas that are not naturally conducive to max yields of existing varieties. Consequently, more marginal varieties are planted on marginal land that wouldn’t even be used except for irrigation. Then in coffee, there are so many variables, the roasts, variety-robusta or arabica, growing location-Jamaican Blue Mountain, Sumatra, Columbia, etc., blends, instant or natural, water quality and temp, GM, method of prep, how long it sits in the pot, strength, and so on. When I was a kid in the early 50′s, every cup of coffee was good. I have had about a dozen cups of really great coffee since the 60′s. It ain’t the same.

  • Gamma22

    OK, let me get this straight. Suppose you don’t drink coffee at all…does that mean you’ll NEVER DIE???

    See the problem here, people? Seems to me that whoever wrote the original article wasn’t properly caffeinated, nor was his/her editor. And let’s not forget, a new study comes out AT LEAST every 6 months refuting the previous study. My recommendation? Drink up, buttercup. You’re going to die of SOMETHING, may as well be awake for it!