I don’t know about you, but as a business owner, I start every single workday with a cup of coffee.  Often, more than one. 

That’s why I was happy to see a massive new scientific study that says people who drink lots of coffee have lower risk of death for any reason than people who don’t.

(There’s no better way to get people excited than to tell them that something they already do is good for them.)

Writing in the journal, Annals of Internal Medicine, university researchers say they examined lifestyle, health, and biographical data relating to 171,616 people in Great Britain who were part of the U.K. Biobank collection effort, and the result was a resounding win for Team Coffee Drinkers.

Among their findings, after looking at data compiled over a seven-year study period:

  • Men and women between the ages of 37 and 73 who drank between 1.5 and 3.5 cups of coffee each day had up to a 30 percent lower chance of dying from any cause during the study period than those who did not.
  • The more coffee people drank up to that limit, whether caffeinated or not, the lower their risk of death.
  • Perhaps surprisingly, people who reported drinking their coffee with sugar were just as unlikely — and in some cases even less likely — to die from any cause during the study period.

A final surprise: while coffee with sugar was related to lower risk of death, the data regarding those who drank their coffee with artificial sweeteners was inconclusive.

“It’s huge,” Dr. Christina Wee, a deputy editor of the Annals of Internal Medicine and an associate professor at Harvard Medical School, told the New York Times in a report on the study. “There are very few things that reduce your mortality by 30 percent.”

Now, this isn’t the first study to suggest that drinking significant amounts of coffee could be related to longer lifespan. For example: 

  • In 2019, I reported on a study of 347,077 people out of the University of South Australia that suggested that five cups a day is the point at which health problems might begin to show up due to coffee consumption, and could even outweigh the benefits.
  • A 2017 study funded by the American Heart Association and the University of Colorado School of Medicine suggested that for every cup of coffee people consume each day, risk of heart failure or stroke goes down by 8 percent.
  • A Spanish study found that drinking four cups of coffee per day led to a 64 percent lower risk of dying among study participants compared to non-coffee drinkers. 
  • And, a British study of 498,123 people found that those who habitually drank coffee were between 10 and 15 percent less likely to die during any 10 year period.

If that last study sounds somewhat similar to the one we’re sharing today, it is; besides backing up those earlier conclusions, the difference is that the more recent study also looked at the benefits of sweetened coffee.

Also, there are a few caveats. First, there’s our old friend, “correlations versus causation.” 

In short, maybe it’s not the coffee that provides the lower risk of death; maybe instead it’s that people who drink coffee are also more likely to do something else healthy.

Also, when we say coffee “sweetened with sugar,” we mean a teaspoon. That’s a lot less than you’d find in sugary coffee concoctions at Starbucks or other cafes. And the study didn’t address adding milk, cream or other similar products.

Now, this is the part of our story when I’d normally just urge you as a business owner to drink more coffee, make it free to people who work for you onsite, and generally encourage people to do more of something a lot of us already do.

But, if you’re an entrepreneur who really want to benefit from this study, I’d point to something else.

Nearly  two-thirds of Americans now drink coffee every day; it’s the most popular beverage in America (more popular than tap water!), and consumption is up 14 percent since before the pandemic.

Moreover, 84 percent of coffee-drinkers say they consume at least one cup of coffee per day within their homes. This means there’s a total addressable market of more than 180 million U.S. coffee-drinkers, and they’re all being told over and over that one of their most addictive habits is also good for them.

Hmmm. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t just smell like coffee to me. It smells a lot like opportunity.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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