Coffee Linked to Lower Death Risk, Even With Sugar Added

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Coffee Linked to Lower Death Risk, Even With Sugar Added

Regularly drinking coffee is linked to a lower risk of dying — even if you add some sugar to your coffee, according to new research published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

Drinking coffee has been linked to a number of health benefits, including some that are especially relevant to people with diabetes. Regular coffee consumption may help preserve kidney function in people with type 2 diabetes, and it may reduce the risk of developing liver disease. It’s also linked to a lower risk for retinopathy (eye disease) in people with type 2 diabetes, and it may reduce the risk for both stroke and dementia. Drinking coffee also carries some health risks, especially at high levels of consumption. It can disrupt sleep in some people, and drinking more than about six cups of coffee a day may increase the risk for dementia. And depending on the brewing method you use, drinking several cups of coffee daily may raise your cholesterol levels.

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For the latest analysis, researchers looked at data from the UK Biobank, a large general health study in Britain. A total of 171,616 people were included in the analysis, with an average age of 55.6 at the beginning of the study period. None of them had a history of cancer or cardiovascular disease at the beginning of the study, and they were followed between 2009 and 2018, with a median follow-up period of 7.0 years.

Reduced risk of dying seen with coffee consumption

During the follow-up period, a total of 3,177 participants died. Based on dietary survey responses at the beginning of the study — and after adjusting for a number of factors linked to the risk of dying — the researchers found that compared with participants who didn’t drink coffee, those who drank up to 1.5 cups of unsweetened coffee daily were 21% less likely to die. For those who drank more than 1.5 up to 2.5 cups, the risk of dying was reduced by 16%; for more than 2.5 up to 3.5 cups, it was reduced by 29%; for more than 3.5 up to 4.5 cups, it was also reduced by 29%; and for over 4.5 cups, it was reduced by 23%.

Participants who reported drinking sugar-sweetened coffee also saw a reduced risk of dying. Compared with those who didn’t drink coffee, participants who drank up to 1.5 cups of coffee with sugar were 9% less likely to die. For those who drank more than 1.5 up to 2.5 cups, the risk of dying was reduced by 31%; for more than 2.5 up to 3.5 cups, it was reduced by 28%; and for more than 3.5 up to 4.5 cups, it was reduced by 21%. But for participants who drank over 4.5 cups of sugar-sweetened coffee, the risk of dying was 5% higher than for those who didn’t drink coffee.

A similar pattern of death risk was seen regardless of whether participants reported consuming ground or instant coffee, or regular or decaffeinated. There was no consistent pattern between coffee consumption and death risk for participants who reported drinking coffee with an added artificial sweetener.

The researchers concluded that moderate consumption of both unsweetened and sugar-sweetened coffee was linked to a lower risk of dying, while noting that participants who drank sweetened coffee added an average of about a teaspoon of sugar. 

Want to learn more about beverages and diabetes? See “Staying Hydrated,” “Best Beverages for Staying Hydrated,” “Water Facts: Getting to Know H20,” and “What’s to Drink?”

Quinn Phillips

Quinn Phillips

Quinn Phillips on social media

A freelance health writer and editor based in Wisconsin, Phillips has a degree from Harvard University. He is a former Editorial Assistant for Diabetes Self-Management and has years of experience covering diabetes and related health conditions. Phillips writes on a variety of topics, but is especially interested in the intersection of health and public policy.

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