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If you’ve gotten into a habit of drinking coffee all day, it may be time to think about cutting back. A preliminary study published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings found that people who habitually drink an average of more than four cups of coffee per day may have a higher risk of death for any reason than people who drink less.
The study drew from data gathered as part of a larger ongoing study called the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study. Nearly 44,000 people participated, undergoing a medical examination and answering questions about lifestyle and health on paper and in person. They were then followed for an average of 17 years.
The researchers who analyzed the data found the following connections:
While coffee has long been blamed for causing an array of health problems, there is little scientific support for its bad reputation. In fact, studies have found that coffee drinkers may have lower risks of depression, liver cancer, and type 2 diabetes than non-coffee drinkers. Some studies have even found that modest coffee consumption (2 to 3 cups per day) is linked to lower rates of heart disease and all-cause mortality.
The findings from this study are preliminary because they come from observation and not a clinical trial. Nevertheless, the study authors reasonably conclude, “On the basis of these findings, it seems appropriate to suggest that younger people avoid heavy coffee consumption,” which they define as an average of more than 4 cups per day.
Coffee drinkers often experience withdrawal symptoms like headache, fatigue, and foggy headedness when they try to cut back on or quit drinking coffee. If you’re trying to cut down, here are some things that might help:
(Mayo Clin Proc 2013:doi:pii: S0025-619600578-8)