Coffee might add years to one’s life

I wrote this week’s entry with something tall, dark and – to some – handsome sitting next to me.

In fact, I do that pretty much every week. It’s not a stretch to say that this column is powered by coffee.

To some, I probably drink a lot of coffee; to others, not nearly enough. I have coffee just about every day. Sometimes, its noticeable when I don’t, which probably isn’t good.

But according to a study released in May, drinking coffee is going to help me live longer than you, assuming of course that you don’t drink it, too.

This study, done by the National Institutes of Health and published in the New England Journal of Medicine, was compiled over the course of 13 years. In it, more than 400,000 healthy men and women, between the ages of 50 and 71 were, well, studied.

During those 13 years, 13 percent of those involved died, and it just so happened that those who didn’t die drank more coffee than those who did. According to the study, men who drank six or more cups of coffee a day were 10 percent less likely to die as early as men who drank no coffee. For women, it was 15 percent.

Don’t drink six cups a day? Don’t worry; even just one cup lowered the risk to six percent in men and five percent in women.

Of the different causes of death that were looked at, cancer seemed to be the only one that didn’t have a correlation.

Now, there are flaws with just about every study. That was the case with the one I mentioned a few months ago, done by the Harvard School of Public Health, linking consumption of red meat with mortality.

This study is no different. It was done based on a single questionnaire distributed over 15 years ago.

It seems like it would be hard to do a study over a period of time like that without doing more than one questionnaire, but the study isn’t nearly as strange as another study published in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation Heart Failure in June. That study, done by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, found that people who drank two eight-ounce cups of coffee a day might be protecting themselves from heart failure.

This study was a study of other studies. Researchers analyzed five studies – four from Sweden and one from Finland – done on over 140,000 men and women and found that people who drank coffee were preventing heart failure by as much as 11 percent.

Could it be the coffee that really helped these people live longer and have less heart failure? Yes, it could be. But it may be that coffee drinkers also happen to have any number of other things that help them not die as early as people who don’t drink coffee. In the meanwhile, I am taking no chances and will continue my daily coffee routine.

Joe Marchilena writes a weekly fitness column for Hampshire Hills. To find out more information about the “90 Day Commit to Get Fit” program, call 603-673-7123 or e-mail