Harvard Women's Health Watch

Could a few daily cups of coffee help you live longer?

We've been conditioned to believe that coffee is bad for us, but a new study suggests the opposite may be true—that, in fact, a few cups a day might help us live longer. The investigation included more than 173,000 women ages 50 to 71 who were enrolled in the National Institutes of Health—AARP Diet and Health Study. Researchers followed the women for more than a decade. Participants who drank six or more cups of coffee each day had about a 15% lower death rate than those who did not drink coffee, according to results published in the May 17 New England Journal of Medicine. The relationship between coffee and mortality was particularly associated with deaths from heart disease, respiratory disease, strokes, injuries and accidents, and diabetes. Because the study was observational, it cannot prove that drinking several cups of coffee daily will extend your life. And if coffee leaves you with unpleasant side effects, such as tremors or nighttime wakefulness, you may still want to stay away from it. But if you enjoy a few cups of morning Joe, you can do so with less guilt—provided you don't add a lot of fattening cream and sugar to your cup.

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