Why Coffee Drinkers Might Live Longer, According To New Research

If you've ever paid attention to the research on whether coffee is good or bad for you, then you probably know that there's a lot of conflicting information out there. First, you have to sort through all of the myths about coffee most people believe. Then, you have to weigh the pros and cons between one study that reveals why drinking coffee could be good for your gut, and another that says you should exercise caution before drinking coffee on an empty stomach. Is coffee good, or is it bad? Well, that might not be a question science can answer directly. But one group of researchers in China may have good news about coffee.

The researchers, whose study results were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, wanted "to evaluate the associations of consumption of sugar-sweetened, artificially sweetened, and unsweetened coffee with all-cause and cause-specific mortality." Basically, they wanted to try to find out if drinking coffee is correlated with increased or decreased chances of early death, and more specifically if that changes depending on how you sweeten your coffee, if at all. This time, the results appear to be in favor of drinking coffee. But as always, things are a little more complicated than just saying "coffee will help you live longer."

There are a lot of variables to consider

Earlier studies have shown a correlation between drinking coffee and a reduced risk of death, but this group of researchers wanted to find out if drinking unsweetened, sugar-sweetened, or artificially-sweetened coffee makes a difference. In the end, they found that those who drink unsweetened or sugar-sweetened coffee do have a decreased chance of death compared to the non-coffee drinkers in the data set they used, provided by the U.K. Biobank. Consuming 2.5 to 4.5 cups of unsweetened or sugar-sweetened coffee daily was associated with a 29% reduction in the risk of death compared to the rest of the population (via The Guardian).

But there are many variables at play here. A lot of coffee consumption research is observational, rather than part of a controlled study (via Verywell Health). Without knowing all of the factors at play in each study participant's life, it's hard to determine if coffee is actually causing a health impact, or if it's just associated with certain types of behaviors that themselves have an impact on a person's health. For instance, one scientist told The Guardian that in general, people who drink coffee tend to also be more affluent, which can have a big impact on health. So ... now what? The deputy editor of the Annals of Internal Medicine has some advice. She said that while coffee with or without sugar probably isn't bad for you, "it would be prudent to avoid too many caramel macchiatos." Noted!