Study: Coffee drinkers have lower risk of death

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Who doesn't love that morning "cup of Joe?" Sixty-eight percent of Americans said they have to have it within an hour of waking up. A new study from the National Institutes of Health indicates that habit may be good news for coffee lovers.

"I love getting up in the morning and smelling it," said long-time coffee drinker Faye Hooper.

The new 14-year NIH study focused on whether there is a link to "risk of death."

Dr. Alex Penot is a hospitalist and internal medicine physician at the Parkway campus of Decatur/Morgan hospital.

"They found that for all cause mortality, all causes of death – a heart attack, stroke, cancer, sudden cardiac death – that these patients have lower risk of mortality than non-coffee drinkers," said Dr. Alex Penot of the Parkway campus of Decatur/Morgan hospital. "So it's a very interesting study. We're not sure what the cause is. It's not a cause and effect study."

This study actually followed 400,000 people between the ages of 50 to 71. The study showed that compared to non-coffee drinkers, coffee drinkers have a lower risk of dying from heart disease, stroke, diabetes, respiratory disease and infections. Caffeinated or decaf, the study showed the same results.

Overall, the death rate was about 15 percent lower for men and 10 percent lower for women who drank from two to six cups of coffee a day.

So does that mean "non coffee drinkers" should start pouring that java? Not so fast.

"It's not at the point where we can make any recommendations for patients to start coffee drinking, or increase their consumption of coffee," said Penot.

So what about patients who are admitted to the hospital? Are they allowed that morning cup?

"For the most part, we allow our patients to have the coffee, unless there's a medical reason not to have it," added Penot.

Those who conducted the study admit they don't know why coffee drinkers have a lower risk of dying; they'll just have to do more research, especially as it pertains to the specific compounds in coffee.

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