Could Drinking Coffee Help You Live Longer?

For years studies have speculated that those who drink coffee may live longer. It appears that researchers may have pinpointed the discovery of why those cups of coffee could hold a key to longevity.

New research published in the journal Nature Medicine has discovered an inflammatory process possibly driving the development of cardiovascular disease and how caffeine found in coffee could counter the inflammatory process. Caffeine is well-known for providing an early morning energy boost but it is being discovered more and more through other research that coffee drinkers who consume one to five cups each day have a lower risk of all-cause mortality than people who abstain. 

To identify the inflammatory process contributing to poor heart health in older age, the research team analyzed data from two groups of people – one group of healthy adults aged 20 to 30 and a second group of healthy adults aged 60 and older. Blood samples were drawn from all participants. After assessing the samples, researchers identified two gene clusters that were more highly activated in the older group of participants. These gene clusters were linked to the production of IL-1-beta, a type of circulating inflammatory protein.

The study found that the older participants who had high gene cluster activity were also significantly more likely to have arterial stiffness placing them at a higher risk for a heart attack or stroke. Participants who had low gene cluster activity had a lower risk. Basically, older people with low levels of inflammation, a contributor to most major disease, all were caffeine drinkers. The more caffeine they consumed, the more protected they were against chronic inflammation and thus disease.

It is not uncommon for inflammation to rise in the body as we age. Chronic diseases of aging, like diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, cancer, joint disorders and Alzheimer’s, are all believed to have inflammation in common. The more active the genes were in the older people, the more likely they were to have diseases such as hypertension and atherosclerosis.

The results of this study point to the fact that having lower levels of the gene cluster had better protection against inflammation. And the researchers attribute this to caffeine particularly those who got their caffeine from coffee. It appears that caffeine inhibits the circuit turning the inflammatory pathway off.

Inflammation can be an important function of the immune system necessary to help fight off infections and remove potentially toxic compounds. As a person ages, the process isn’t as well regulated as when someone is younger. Older age brings about a less effective method of managing inflammation.

What is hoped is that by making this discovery, scientists can figure out when the inflammatory response begins to spiral out of control by developing a reference range of immune system components to tell people whether their levels are normal or too high putting them at risk for developing chronic conditions caused by inflammation.

Meanwhile, go ahead and have another cup of coffee.

David Samadi, MD - Medical Contributor

View posts by David Samadi, MD - Medical Contributor
Dr. Samadi is a board-certified urologic oncologist trained in open and traditional and laparoscopic surgery and is an expert in robotic prostate surgery. He is chairman of urology, chief of robotic surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital and professor of urology at Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine. He is a medical correspondent for the Fox News Channel's Medical A-Team. Learn more at Visit Dr. Samadi's blog at Follow Dr. Samadi on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook.

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