UK Biobank Study Identifies Link Between Coffee And Increased Health

Posted On: 7/9/2018

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GREENVILLE, S.C -- While multiple studies have correlated coffee consumption with longevity, fewer studies answer the question of which specific compounds present in coffee affect health outcomes. Now, new leaps in DNA testing are making it possible to single out the substances that might hold the key to the beneficial qualities of coffee.

A new population-based study from UK Biobank set out to identify whether the way humans metabolize caffeine affects longevity and whether or not it contributes to or detracts from coffee’s health benefits. With a sample size of 500,000, the Biobank used baseline demographics, lifestyle and genetic data for 10 years from 2006 to 2016 to estimate hazard ratios (HRs) for coffee intake and mortality.

Past studies, including one published by Human Molecular Genetics in December 2016, show a major variation in the speed at which people metabolize caffeine. They have verified that those who metabolize coffee quickly drink more coffee in general because they experience fewer negative psychoactive effects (such as caffeine jitters and sleep interruption). Participants in the UK Biobank study were DNA tested to determine whether they metabolize caffeine quickly or slowly.

Results demonstrated no difference in mortality rates between subjects with different rates of caffeine metabolism. However, the results did show that all participants who drank coffee demonstrated lower mortality rates for all causes over the study’s 10-year period. Even more interestingly, the more coffee consumed, the lower the subject’s chances of dying in that period for any reason:

1 cup  -- 6% less likely to die in the 10-year period
2 cups -- 8% less likely to die in the 10-year period
3 cups -- 12% less likely to die in the 10-year period
4 cups  -- 12% less likely to die in the 10-year period
5 cups  -- 16% less likely to die in the 10-year period

The researchers of the UK Biobank study also observed inverse associations for both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee, further suggesting the importance of non-caffeine compounds in the decreased mortality rates.

Additionally, the study found differences in the health effects of ground coffee versus instant coffee. “We observed inverse associations for each coffee type with all-cause and cause specific mortality; associations were generally stronger for ground coffee than for instant,” added the authors of the study.