Coffee may help us live longer? (Recent Study)

Some good news about one of our bad habits

The Mystic, CT, Starbucks at sunrise — where I normally start my day and the site where a large portion of our book and my blog was created

Drinking coffee may not be as bad for our health as we thought. Until a recent NIH study published in the New England Journal of Medicine last month, any possible health benefits of drinking coffee were clouded by the fact that regular coffee drinkers are also more likely to:

  • Smoke cigarettes
  • Eat fewer fruits and vegetables
  • Exercise less
  • Drink more alcohol

But for those of us do eat lots of fruits & veggies, exercise often, drink moderately and don’t smoke—drinking coffee may actually help us live longer. As reported by the New York Times (See link below):

Once the researchers controlled for those risks (listed above), the data showed that the more coffee a person consumed, the less likely he or she was to die from a number of health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, respiratory disease, stroke, infections and even injuries and accidents.

Over all, the risk of dying during the 14-year study period was about 10 percent lower for men and about 15 percent lower for women who drank anywhere from two cups to six or more cups of coffee a day. The association between coffee and lower risk of dying was similar whether the coffee drinker consumed caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee.

Does this mean you should drink more coffee? Probably not. Since improving my diet-style in 2003, I have been what you would call a light coffee drinker, meaning that I only drink one small cup daily—right here where I publish my daily blog at the crack of dawn. And I will continue to be a light coffee drinker even though the risk of dying was lower for those who drank two to six or more cups a day.

While coffee may have some healthy antioxidants, this should continue to be your preferred source of all essential nutrients.

I remain convinced that what really makes me healthy is what we call our 4 leaves of health:

  1. Whole foods, plant-based diet
  2. Daily exercise
  3. Adequate rest (7 or 8 hours of sleep)
  4. A positive mental attitude

The Bottom Line. Drinking coffee may not be as bad as some thought. And, for me, maybe my daily cup of joe helps a little when it comes to that positive mental attitude. Finally, Howard Schultz (Starbucks CEO) must be pleased with this latest study.

Tall Pike, Black Please

As for Howard, I am sitting in his Mystic, CT, store at this moment—sparkling sunrise, Johnny Cash tunes in the background, and my solo cup of joe about halfway finished. Just last week, there was a great article in TIME about Schultz and how he keeps improving on his enduring business model. And this latest bit of news about coffee helping you live longer didn’t hurt his plan a bit. From that article:

Its future once looked tepid, but Starbucks has become a company that retail analysts say will likely double its footprint over the next two years, in part by replicating the coffee experience in other categories.

That article had one factoid that surprised me. Almost as many Americans (25%) get their coffee at Starbucks as they do at home (29%). And if you combine the top three sources of coffee (Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonalds), they account for a whopping 52% of all coffee consumed in the United States. Amazing.

In closing, have a nice day, enjoy your coffee and make a decision to really take charge of your health.

Handy 4-piece take-charge-of-your-health kit—from

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J. Morris Hicks, working daily to promote health, hope and harmony on planet Earth.

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Blogging daily at…from the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.

—J. Morris Hicks, board member, T. Colin Campbell Foundation

About J. Morris Hicks

A former strategic management consultant and senior corporate executive with Ralph Lauren in New York, J. Morris Hicks has always focused on the "big picture" when analyzing any issue. In 2002, after becoming curious about our "optimal diet," he began a study of what we eat from a global perspective ---- discovering many startling issues and opportunities along the way. In addition to an MBA and a BS in Industrial Engineering, he holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, where he has also been a member of the board of directors since 2012. Having concluded that our food choices hold the key to the sustainability of our civilization, he has made this his #1 priority---exploring all avenues for influencing humans everywhere to move back to the natural plant-based diet for our species.
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3 Responses to Coffee may help us live longer? (Recent Study)

  1. Hi – did they control for soda intake as well as alcohol for non-coffee drinkers? I find it very hard to believe that coffee is a health food compared to water.

    Interesting post!

    • My apologies for inadvertent confusion in my neglecting “Until” in “Until a recent NIH study.” The COFFEE posting by Dr. Hicks stands as written and seems error-free.
      How much coffee of what type to drink remains a very intriguing area of inquiry.
      Ditto for alcoholic drinks. Beer? Wine? So far, for some of us, the jury is out.
      For soda the verdict’s in. How much? NONE. Full disclosure: I don’t like soda.


  2. MOST of your post rings true. But in keeping with the “Biochemical Individuality” principle pioneered by Roger J. Williams, effects of various TYPES of coffee must vary greatly from one human being to another. Where grown? How processed? Filtered? How prepared? I’ve had a lot of coffee – some wonderful and some horrible. See 5,000 HITS related to Dr. Williams and his book. He wrote 21 books and countless peer-reviewed articles. He discovered the B-vitamin, Pantothenic Acid, and concentrated and named Folic Acid. He was active in the National Academy of Sciences and served as President of the American Chemical Society, Credentials matter.

    MOST? The following in the preface to your article is a bit confusing. After the opening statement, everything seems internally consistent and propounds a position similar to mine. I LOVE coffee.

    “Any possible health benefits of drinking coffee were clouded by the fact that regular coffee drinkers are also more likely to Smoke cigarettes, Eat fewer fruits and vegetables, Exercise less, Drink more alcohol.” This area of inquiry yields over a million hits. Much more to be learned.

    As risk of using his name in vain, my latest understanding is that Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr now recommends that we avoid “ordinary” coffee and restrict ourselves to decaffeinated coffee.

    How harmful is coffee to our endothelial cells? An initial search yields a million hits. OUCH.

    Unlike the Milk and Meat industry, Coffee research has fewer conflicts of interest. Right?

    In unintended – but perverse – humor, much “research” on claimed “benefits” of our species drinking milk of another species after normal weaning comes from the American Dairy Association.
    For more on current ADA efforts, search CCFC (Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood)

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