Just when you thought everything associated with the Mad Men generation was ultimately lethal (you know, cigarettes, booze, plenty of red meat, dry cleaner bags), here comes even more good news about something that isn’t: coffee.
Whereas a steady drumbeat of scientific evidence lo these past 30 years has pretty much put the kibosh on bacon for breakfast, three-martini lunches and cigarettes at any time of the day, there’s been an absolute inverse thing going on when it comes to good old-fashioned coffee, which was once thought to make you a jittery, ulcer-laden mess (and maybe a communist).
At the rate we’re going, it seems any moment now researchers are going to confirm it: Drink coffee, live forever (or at least avoid Alzheimer’s).
The most recent reason for java junkies to indulge in that second (or third) cup? A new study out of the Harvard School of Public Health finds people who drink two to four cups of coffee a day have a 50 percent lower risk of dying by suicide. Why? Scientists think it’s because caffeine acts as a mild antidepressant—which, by the way, is another health benefit of coffee drinking that’s apparently confirmed by other studies: a decreased risk of suffering from depression.
Now, it should be noted that a previous study out of Finland found an increased risk of suicide for people drinking upwards of eight or nine cups of coffee a day, and the authors of the Harvard study stress that their research at least shows little health benefit from increasing coffee consumption beyond three cups.
But if you’re looking for more reasons to jump on the coffee cart (or tea, but you know—eh, tea), you don’t have to look far to find the plethora of health benefits from coffee out there:
• The National Institutes of Heath followed more than 400,000 healthy men and women between the ages of 50 and 71 for 13 years and in 2012 released findings that showed those who drank six or more cups of coffee a day lowered their risk of mortality by 10 to 15 percent.
• Earlier this year, a study of more than 80,000 men and women in Japan from the American Heart Association found just a single cup of coffee a day cut the risk of stroke by 20 percent.
• In 2012, researchers discovered a possible link between consuming three to four cups of coffee a day and a 25 percent lower risk for developing type-2 diabetes.
• A small study last summer published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease reported that higher levels of caffeine in the bloodstream seemed to delay the development of Alzheimer’s by two to four years.
• And in yet another recent study, this one published last year in the journal Cancer Research, scientists found drinking more than two cups of coffee a day lowered a person’s risk for developing basal cell carcinoma, the most common form of skin cancer.
Yes, skin cancer. Drinking coffee may actually protect you from skin cancer. And Alzheimer’s, and stroke, and diabetes...oh, and now suicide.
So I guess the only question is: Why haven’t you taken a coffee break yet?