Newswise — Coffee is one of the world’s most widely consumed beverages. About 75 percent of Americans drink coffee; half of them on a daily basis. Prior research has shown that in 500,000 individuals living in 10 different European nations, when compared with non-coffee drinkers, those in the highest quartile of coffee consumption had statistically significant lower mortality from all causes. Reports have even shown that people who drink between three and six cups of coffee a day have lower risks of death compared to those who only consume one cup of Joe a day.
So what is it about the link between drinking coffee and living longer? Could it be the 200 plus organic compounds in the coffee bean itself and its proven benefits of reducing inflammation and regulating glucose levels? Or could it be something else?
In an editorial published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology and Therapeutics, researchers from Florida Atlantic University’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine provide a hypothesis that coffee drinkers engage in increased physical activity, which may account, at least in part, for their lower death rates.
For those with good to excellent health, there is an even stronger link between coffee drinking and decreased mortality. Decaffeinated coffee seems to have the same benefits and the authors theorize that these coffee drinkers tend to exercise more and eat healthier diets. Therefore, the researchers speculate that increased levels of energy expenditure, and maybe not the coffee itself, is the key common feature linked with reduced death in regular drinkers of both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee.
After all, there is plenty of evidence that shows increased regular energy expenditure such as regular physical activity plays a major role in reducing death. Specifically, even individuals who walk briskly for 20 minutes a day, which burns about 700 calories a week, have a 30 to 40 percent reduction in the risk of heart disease. Furthermore, burning between 3,000 and 3,500 calories a week is associated with reduced risks of death from cardiovascular disease as well as total mortality.
“In moderation, drinking coffee seems to increase our ability to perform strenuous exercise for longer periods of time,” said Steven F. Lewis, Ph.D., lead author and a professor of integrated biomedical science in FAU’s College of Medicine who is internationally known for his research on human muscle fatigue and physical performance in health and disease. “Drinking coffee also reduces our perception of effort, discomfort and pain while we exercise.”
Lewis and co-author Charles H. Hennekens, M.D., Dr.P.H., the first Sir Richard Doll Professor and senior academic advisor to the dean in FAU’s College of Medicine, believe that coffee’s ability to raise a person’s resting metabolic rate by 5 to 7 percent may help to offset the effects of slower metabolism, decline in energy and weight gain as we age.
On average, individuals gain about one pound per year between the ages of 25 to 55. This amounts from anywhere from 10 to 50 calories in a single bite depending on what is being consumed. Lewis and Hennekens note that the small increase in metabolic rate from drinking coffee could counteract these extra bites of food and also help with the “battle of the bulge,” which is associated with heart disease, type 2 diabetes and increased mortality.
“About 36 percent of American adults do not engage in any leisure-time physical activity, despite the fact that walking may be comparable to more vigorous exercise in preventing a cardiovascular event,” said Hennekens, who is internationally renowned for his major contributions in reducing disability and death from cardiovascular disease. He has performed several landmark studies demonstrating that people who engage in regular physical activity at a level that can be continued even among much older adults, have lowered risks of heart attacks and strokes. He also has demonstrated that after a heart attack those who participate in rehabilitation have lowered risks of recurrent events. “Unfortunately, less than 15 percent actually participate in cardiac rehabilitation after they are discharged.”
On a global scale, the World Health Organization estimates that about 31 percent of adults are insufficiently active and about 3.2 million deaths occur each year because of this inactivity. In the U.S., physical inactivity is a major public health concern accounting for about 22 percent of heart disease, 22 percent of colon cancer, 18 percent of bone fractures, 12 percent of diabetes and high blood pressure, and about five percent of breast cancer cases. In addition, physical inactivity in the U.S. accounts for about 2.4 percent of health expenditures or about $24 billion a year.
“Whether or not our theory about coffee holds true, people should be engaging in regular physical activity,” said Lewis.
– FAU –
About the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine:
FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine is one of approximately 151 accredited medical schools in the U.S. The college was launched in 2010, when the Florida Board of Governors made a landmark decision authorizing FAU to award the M.D. degree. After receiving approval from the Florida legislature and the governor, it became the 134th allopathic medical school in North America. With more than 70 full and part-time faculty and more than 1,300 affiliate faculty, the college matriculates 64 medical students each year and has been nationally recognized for its innovative curriculum. To further FAU’s commitment to increase much needed medical residency positions in Palm Beach County and to ensure that the region will continue to have an adequate and well-trained physician workforce, the FAU Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine Consortium for Graduate Medical Education (GME) was formed in fall 2011 with five leading hospitals in Palm Beach County. In June 2014, FAU’s College of Medicine welcomed its inaugural class of 36 residents in its first University-sponsored residency in internal medicine and graduated its first class of internal medicine residents in 2017.
About Florida Atlantic University:
Florida Atlantic University, established in 1961, officially opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University, with an annual economic impact of $6.3 billion, serves more than 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students at sites throughout its six-county service region in southeast Florida. FAU’s world-class teaching and research faculty serves students through 10 colleges: the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters, the College of Business, the College for Design and Social Inquiry, the College of Education, the College of Engineering and Computer Science, the Graduate College, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. FAU is ranked as a High Research Activity institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University is placing special focus on the rapid development of critical areas that form the basis of its strategic plan: Healthy aging, biotech, coastal and marine issues, neuroscience, regenerative medicine, informatics, lifespan and the environment. These areas provide opportunities for faculty and students to build upon FAU’s existing strengths in research and scholarship. For more information, visit www.fau.edu.