…researchers primarily at the National Cancer Institute parsed health information from more than 400,000 volunteers, ages 50 to 71, who were free of major diseases at the study’s start in 1995. By 2008, more than 50,000 of the participants had died. But men who reported drinking two or three cups of coffee a day were 10 percent less likely to have died than those who didn’t drink coffee, while women drinking the same amount had 13 percent less risk of dying during the study. It’s not clear exactly what coffee had to do with their longevity, but the correlation is striking.
Other recent studies have linked moderate coffee drinking — the equivalent of three or four 5-ounce cups of coffee a day or a single venti-size Starbucks — with more specific advantages: a reduction in the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, basal cell carcinoma (the most common skin cancer), prostate cancer, oral cancer and breast cancer recurrence.
Perhaps most consequential, animal experiments show that caffeine may reshape the biochemical environment inside our brains in ways that could stave off dementia.
The part of my brain that teaches causal inference says a lot of this is probably third factors that influence both beverage choice and health.
The part of my brain that rationalizes my own vices says, “awesome!”
Possibly my lowest coffee moment was waking up one morning in a rural school in Liberia, where my wife and I were studying an ex-combatant reintegration training program. The kitchen was closed because the students had decided to strike/protest, and the yard was full of teachers and hundreds of ex-combatants yelling at one another in menacing ways. While Jeannie was asking me whether we should get out of there, I was trying to find dry Nescafe, mix it with cold mineral water, and shoot it in order to stave off the migrane I knew was just moments away, because it was already 10am and my body had not yet been caffeinated. Since then I have started drinking more decaf.