a science-based resource on coffee, caffeine, and health

Coffee Drinkers Live Longer


Researchers agree.


Emerging research continues to rehabilitate coffee's once-maligned reputation. In fact, regular coffee drinkers (or people who consume about 3-5 cups daily) may be less likely to die from several different causes, according to a recently published study. Scientists report that the many compounds in coffee are known to help lower insulin resistance or inflammation, which could result in better health. (Surprisingly, researchers found the lower risk of death was similar among people who drank caffeinated as well as decaffeinated coffee - suggesting other components in coffee might play a beneficial role.)


In the largest-ever analysis of coffee and mortality [source], the National Institutes of Health found that coffee consumption may reduce the risk of overall mortality. Scientists concluded that the risk reduction held true for both all deaths and for deaths related to specific causes, including heart disease, respiratory disease, stroke, and diabetes.


The study found significant risk reductions for coffee drinkers versus non-drinkers: up to 12% for men and 16% for women who drank 4-5 cups a day. At lower consumption levels, the study showed risk reductions ranging 6-10% among men and 5-15% among women. 


The study tracked more than 970,000 people between 50 – 71 for nearly 14 years. The results showed no distinction between regular and decaffeinated coffee, suggesting that the risk reduction seen in the study stems from another one of coffee’s 1,300 chemical compounds


A Harvard University study published in 2015 observed that, compared with people who don’t drink coffee, those who drank three to five cups of caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee per day had a lower risk of death from Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, neurological diseases (such as Parkinson’s), and suicide.


Other meta-analyses (that is, studies that pool results from other, independent studies) have reached similar conclusions.


An Italian review 2 surveying 22 studies, including more than 650,000 people, found a 12% decreased risk of overall mortality, with a 3% added risk reduction for each additional cup of coffee consumed. Risk reduction of mortality from cardiovascular disease was found to be similar to overall mortality. 


A Chinese review 3 capturing over one million individuals from 17 studies concluded that light to moderate coffee consumption may help decrease the risk of mortality from all causes, particularly for women.


Overall risk reduction correlated with consumption:


  • - 13% for those who drank three to five cups of coffee (19% for women, and 10% for men)
  • - 11 % for one to three cups (16% for women, 9% for men)
  • - 10% for five or more (15% for women, 6% for men)


A 2014 Swedish study found similar results across a population of more than 300,000 from 21 independent studies. Results indicated the highest risk reduction at 16% among those who consumed four cups of coffee a day. Like the other review studies, no further risk reduction was found for higher levels of consumption. For mortality from cardiovascular disease, the study found a higher risk reduction level of 21%, while there appeared to be no difference in risk level for mortality from cancer.


Together, results of all of the studies suggest a similar link between coffee consumption and a lowered risk of mortality. All findings showed a “dose-responsive” relationship – that is, as coffee consumption increased, the mortality risk decreased. 


1. Y. Je and E. Giovannucci ,British Journal of Nutrition, Nov 27:1-12, 2013 

2. S. Malerba, F. Turati, C. Galeone et al, European Journal of Epidemiology, 28:527-539, 2013

3.  Y. Zhao, K. Wu, J. Zheng et al, Public Health Nutrition, 18(7), 1282-1291, 2014

4. A. Crippa, A. Discacciati, S. Larsson et al, American Journal of Epidemiology, Vol. 180, No. 8, 201


Association of Coffee Consumption with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality in Three Large Prospective Cohorts
Circulation, November 2016
Ming Ding, Ambika Satija, Shilpa N. Bhupathiraju, Yang Hu, Qi Sun, Jiali Han, Esther Lopez-Garcia, Walter Willett, Rob M. van Dam and Frank B. Hu 

Moderate coffee drinking may lower risk of premature death

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Nov. 2015