A New Study Claims Coffee Could Prevent Premature Death

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Go ahead and have that second, third and fourth espresso this afternoon. A new study suggests drinking more coffee could prevent premature death.

Published in the journal Circulation, the study looked at data from 167,000 women and 40,000 men at different points in their lives, concluding that "higher consumption of total coffee, caffeinated coffee and decaffeinated coffee was associated with lower risk of total mortality."

According to Walter Willett, a researcher from the Harvard School of Public Health and one of the study's authors, people who drink three to five cups of coffee per day had a 15% lower risk of premature mortality, or a potentially preventable death that occurs before the person's expected age.

You don't have to be a caffeine fan to benefit: The study found decaf coffee worked just fine, and that the results are probably from the phytochemicals and other nutrients found in coffee beans.

"We went beyond total mortality and looked at specific causes of death," Willett told NPR. "And we found that people who drink moderate amounts of coffee have lower risk of [death] from cardiovascular disease, diabetes, neurologic disease [such as Parkinson's] and suicide."

This isn't the first time drinking coffee has been associated with longevity. In 2012, a study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that coffee consumption also had an inverse association with total and cause-specific mortality. And it isn't just your longevity that gets a boost from a good cup of coffee. Besides lowering risk of stroke, it can help keep your thoughts together.

"We all feel better when we have a strong cup of coffee," Dr. William Barr, associate professor in the Departments of Neurology and Psychiatry at NYU Langone Medical Center, told Mic. "There are some good studies that show caffeine improves memory consolidation, and it makes you more alert."

This isn't to say you should pound 20-ounce medium blend coffees like Gatorade — especially since some of the big coffee chains' caffeine content varies to a potentially dangerous degree, way beyond the 400 milligrams recommended as the cap on caffeine intake. 

One paper from the Journal of Analytical Toxicology found caffeinated coffees could range in potency from 58 to 259 milligrams per cup. The caffeine content in the exact same coffee blend could even double in potency from one bag to the next.

But if you're keeping your caffeine count low, Willett's team won't try to make you kick the habit.

"I think if people like coffee, it's fine to include it [in your diet]," he told NPR. "[People] should not feel guilty about moderate coffee consumption. It definitely can be part of a healthy lifestyle. ... I wouldn't suggest that someone who doesn't like coffee go out and drink it."