WEDNESDAY, May 16 (HealthDay News) -- Older adults who consume three cups of coffee or more daily might lower their risk of dying from common causes by 10 percent, compared with those who drink no coffee, a large U.S. National Cancer Institute study suggests.
The finding applies to 50- to 71-year-olds drinking either caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee. And it suggests that coffee drinking is associated with a dip in fatalities stemming from cardiovascular disease, respiratory illness, stroke, diabetes, infections, and injuries and accidents.
But the team stressed that it remains unclear in what way coffee might confer a health benefit, and that the study did not establish any cause-and-effect relationship.
"I think it's really important to point out that our study was observational," said study lead author Neal Freedman, an investigator with the division of cancer epidemiology and genetics at the U.S. National Cancer Institute in Rockville, Md.
"That means that we simply asked people how much coffee they drink and followed them," he said. "But coffee drinking is just one of the many things people do. Coffee is associated with many different behaviors. So we don't know what else might be affecting this association."
For instance, coffee drinkers tend to smoke more, which is a major cause of death, Freedman noted. "And so when we first looked at the association, we found that coffee drinkers actually faced a higher risk of death, and it was only when we discounted smoking that we found the reverse relationship."
The study is published in the May 17 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.
For the study, the investigators focused on the dietary habits of about 400,000 men and women enrolled in the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study between 1995 and 1996. None of the participants had a history of cancer, stroke or h
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