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Coffee helps you live longer, say twitchy, sweaty scientists

Not only does coffee produce euphoric effects in large doses, help keep you regular, and provide endless hilarious jokes about people leaving you alone before you’ve had a cup, it also prevents death. In a story that was probably written at a furious pace by an over-caffeinated reporter, NPR presents the excited, slightly sweaty news that drinking three to five cups of coffee a day—regular or decaf—can help lower your risk of premature mortality by up to 15 percent.

But before you hook up an IV of some artisanal Kenyan blend, know that some of the benefits seem to come from the general lifestyle of coffee drinkers in the study, not from the drink itself. Coffee drinkers tend to drink less soda, for example, and that stuff’ll kill you. And the 15 percent number applies only to nonsmokers, according to CNN, and adding smoking to the equation negates any benefits for heavy coffee consumers. (Sorry, Jim Jarmusch.) A decreased death risk of 5 to 9 percent among light coffee drinkers (one to three cups a day) remains consistent in a group that includes both smokers and non-smokers, however.


And there are some chemicals in coffee itself that can help prevent that most undesirable of side effects: death. The bean itself contains chemicals like lignans and chlorogenic acid that can reduce inflammation and control blood sugar, helping prevent heart disease and diabetes. Drinking at least one cup of coffee a day is also associated with a significantly lower risk for suicide, which could either be because coffee drinkers are more likely to be employed—giving them a reason to live—or because their hands are shaking too hard to pull the trigger. Either way, tip your barista. They don’t just pretend that you’re not the 20th person to call them a “lifesaver” that morning, they might actually be saving your life.

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