Hot and Heavy: Coffee Addicts Risk Early Death, Especially the Obese

Approximately 64 percent of American adults drink coffee daily, and among them, the average coffee consumption is 3.1 cups per day, according to the National Coffee Association’s latest report.

Less than 4 cups daily—the equivalent of two grande-sized (16-ounce) cups at Starbucks—is probably OK for adults under age 55. It might even reduce your risk of early death.

RELATED: Study: Drinking Coffee May Lengthen Life

But for those draining five or more cups of Joe daily, a recent study reveals, mortality increases—especially for men and those overweight or obese.

The Mayo Clinic study observed the drinking habits of 43,727 adults from February 1971 to December 2002; it was largely skewed to men with 33,900 male participants, for unknown reasons. Numerous factors were measured to qualify study participants, such as body mass index (BMI); cardiovascular, cancer and stroke risk; and exercise habits; among a long list of health attributes and lifestyle habits.

More than 32 ounces of coffee daily may shorten your life. (Flickr/quinn.anya)

More than 32 ounces of coffee daily may shorten your life. (Flickr/quinn.anya)

Researchers found that coffee intake was positively associated with higher all-cause mortality in men, but only a suggestion of an effect was found in women. In men, those who drank more than 28 cups of coffee weekly had a 21 percent higher risk of dying compared with their non-coffee-consuming peers. That rate increased for those considered overweight or obese.

Neither men nor women had significant associations between cardiovascular disease mortality and coffee consumption—which contradicts the common notion that excessive coffee intake is linked to heart disease. lists several studies that reaffirm that drinking coffee is not tied to cardiovascular risk.

Coffee may be best enjoyed in moderation—or at least less than 5 cups daily (and remember those are 8-ounce cups), and it may even have health benefits, such as protecting against Parkinson's disease, type 2 diabetes and liver cancer. Plus, it has a high content of antioxidants, states the Mayo Clinic.

The American Diabetes Association reports that high coffee consumption has been associated with better glucose tolerance and a substantially lower risk of type 2 diabetes in diverse populations in Europe, the U.S., and Japan. But scientists are still unsure what components of coffee may be responsible for the apparent beneficial effect.

RELATED: Drinking Coffee Lowers Diabetes Risk

Caffeine was actually discovered by the Ethiopian ancestors of today's Oromo tribe, which today claims 30 million members—the single largest ethnicity in Ethiopia at roughly 34.49 percent of the population, according to the 2007 census. The Ethiopians were the first to point out the energizing effect of the native coffee plant, states the book The World of Caffeine: The Science and Culture of the World's Most Popular Drug.

RELATED: Rarity: A Coffee-Table Book in Cree

Lately, several Natives have jumped into the coffee business, like the Navajo Nation and an Oglala Lakota woman, among others.

READ: Community and Cappuccino: A Creative Cafe Opens on Pine Ridge

Navajo Zoo Partners to Sell Gourmet Coffee Blends


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Hot and Heavy: Coffee Addicts Risk Early Death, Especially the Obese