Saturday, May 19, 2012

Not dying sooner

Some confusing headlines this week on the effect of coffee drinking on health.

Most newspapers went with some variation of 'Coffee drinkers live longer', but the truth was a little more complex than that.

The research, published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine, Association of Coffee Drinking with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality, actually reached a slightly different conclusion:
In this large prospective study, coffee consumption was inversely associated with total and cause-specific mortality. Whether this was a causal or associational finding cannot be determined from our data. 

The Washington Post, who have some good science reporters, did well with No, drinking coffee probably won’t make you live longer
The study’s researchers found that coffee drinkers were more prone to engage in a whole host of unhealthy activities. They smoke more, are more likely to consume three or more alcoholic drinks a day and eat more red meat. They exercise less and eat fewer fruits and vegetables.
When the researchers isolated coffee consumption as a single variable, they did indeed see a drop in the risk of premature death. But when they looked at coffee-drinkers who had those bad health habits, the risk of death was actually higher: Coffee-drinkers are actually more likely to die early because of those habits.

and BoingBoing got all wrapped up with Coffee associated with the opposite of death, according to new scientific study
I think what they're trying to tell us is that while drinking coffee does not necessarily cause you to live longer, it is associated with the opposite of dying sooner.

I'll just note that for maximum 'not dyingness' you need to drink six or more cups a day....

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