Go ahead. Sip that steaming cup o’ joe and enjoy the next one, too. Researchers say coffee may help you live longer.
According to scientists at the Stanford University School of Medicine, drinking coffee may help protect older people against inflammation, which is what ultimately causes many age-related diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension, joint problems, Alzheimer’s and many types of cancer.
Better yet, the Stanford docs say the more caffeine the oldsters drank, the more protection they received against chronic inflammation.
The study, which showed a correlation between caffeine consumption and older people with low levels of inflammation, was published this month in the journal Nature Medicine. These findings may go a long way in explaining why java enthusiasts tend to live longer than those who don’t partake.
“That something many people drink — and actually like to drink — might have a direct benefit came as a surprise to us,” said Mark Davis, a professor of microbiology and immunology and the director of the Stanford Institute for Immunity, Transplantation and Infection. Davis, also noted that the study did not prove a mere causal link but a definite correlation.
Davis and his colleagues looked at blood samples from two groups, healthy people between 20 and 30 years old, and a second set of participants 60 and older. With the older group, two clusters of genes related to inflammation were more active, making people more vulnerable to diseases. Caffeine, however, interfered with the way those genes trigger inflammation — and the more caffeine, apparently the better.
Five-cup drinkers, a little much for most people, had extremely low levels of activity in the gene pathways.
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The study also found that this inflammatory process is implicated in cardiovascular disease and increased rates of mortality overall. “Metabolites, or breakdown products, of nucleic acids — the molecules that serve as building blocks for our genes — circulating in the blood can trigger this inflammatory process,” according to the statement.
A word of caution: Turning off inflammation completely isn’t ideal either, because the process also happens to help the immune system fight infections. What’s more, too much caffeine has been known to keep people awake.
Other studies have touted the benefits of moderate coffee consumption. Harvard has compiled a summary of some of those. The university has also noted a few of the downsides of drinking coffee.