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Is coffee healthy? Researchers have been trying to find the answer for a long time. Now there is new evidence. An international team of researchers has looked at mortality data from more than half a million people from ten European countries, and with their

Coffee drinkers may benefit health-wise from their passion. This is the conclusion reached by an international team of researchers after looking at death data from more than half a million people in ten European countries. The scientists published their results in the "Annals of Internal Medicine".

According to the study, for example, men with very high coffee consumption (more than 580 milliliters per day in Germany) were 12 percent less likely to die within the observation period of about 16.4 years than non-coffee drinkers. For women, it was seven percent. To look at the health effects of coffee in more isolation, the researchers calculated out many other influences, such as diet and smoking.

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"No recommendation for more or less coffee consumption"

Lead author Marc Gunter nevertheless cautions against too much euphoria among coffee drinkers: "Due to the limitations of observational research, we are not at a point where we can make a recommendation for more or less coffee consumption." Nevertheless, the results suggested that moderate coffee consumption of about three cups a day is not harmful to health, and that coffee may even have health benefits.

Gunter Kuhnle of the British University of Reading, who was not involved in the study, considers the observed effects to be rather small. Moreover, the results of such studies would be readily sensationalized, although they usually did not allow any conclusions to be drawn about causality – i.e., in this case, about whether coffee was really the cause of the effect.

According to the study authors, coffee is one of the world's most popular beverages: 2.25 billion cups are consumed around the world every day – despite the fact that coffee was long considered harmful to health. Coffee consists – depending on the variety and preparation – of more than 1.000 different substances, including caffeine.

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Lower risk for all causes of death

Only last year, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) announced that an increased cancer risk from coffee could not be proven. The IARC is an agency of the World Health Organization (WHO).

The new study is one of a growing number of studies that refute the negative image of coffee or even find positive effects. Studies in the USA and Japan, for example, have come to similar conclusions. The current study, which involved researchers from the IARC and Imperial College in London, is the first of its kind from Europe.

The researchers observed that people who consumed more coffee had a lower risk of all causes of death, especially circulatory diseases and diseases related to the digestive tract.

"More favorable liver function profile and better immune response."

The researchers used the large European long-term study EPIC ("European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition") as the basis for their study. 16 years after study participants were first surveyed, nearly 42.000 of them died.

"Our study offers (. ) important insights into the possible mechanisms responsible for coffee's beneficial effects", said Marc Gunter according to a press release. "We found that drinking more coffee was associated with a more favorable liver function profile and a better immune response." According to Kuhnle, an expert who was not involved in the study, this has already been shown in other studies, but not with the same precision.

For the nutritional epidemiologist, the current study closes a gap. The relationship between overall mortality and coffee consumption has already been studied in the USA, but not in Europe. This is particularly interesting, he said, because the place and preparation of coffee differ significantly on this side and the other side of the Atlantic.

Coffee is at least not unhealthy

"In the USA, coffee is a "standard drink" and is consumed in particular by people in lower income brackets, while in Great Britain, for example, tea is more widespread and coffee is the exception." Social status, however, has a major impact on health. Unfortunately, the new study does not look at individual EU countries separately.

Kuhnle is particularly interested in the question of why mortality is lower with higher coffee consumption: "Is this the effect of bioactive compounds in coffee, which could then be isolated or the coffee better prepared, or is there another reason??"

It is also possible that the health effects may not come from coffee at all. But that the beverage is related to the actual cause of these effects only. It is conceivable, for example, that people with an increased risk of disease generally drink less coffee. But the current examination at least indicates that coffee consumption is not unhealthy.

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