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Drinking coffee could save your life

Editor’s note: The following is a blog entry from “Health Out Loud” that appears on the Echo Press website under Areavoices. It was written by Crystal Hoepner, health educator with Douglas County Public Health.

More than half of American adults drink coffee every day. According to the latest research, two cups of coffee a day may actually save your life.

Results from a 2013 study performed by the Harvard School of Public Health, finds that coffee fanatics who drink two to four cups of coffee each day are less likely to commit suicide than those who drink decaf, or no coffee at all.

The study followed more than 200,000 people for at least 16 years. The researchers found that the suicide risk was cut by around 50 percent for coffee drinkers.

The results add to the growing number of studies on coffee’s potential health benefits. Previous research shows that coffee drinkers have lower risks of diabetes, cancer, heart disease and gallstones.

Researchers have also discovered that coffee and smiles might go hand-in-hand by reducing the risk of depression. Caffeine from a cup of Joe not only stimulates the central nervous system but may act as a mild antidepressant by boosting production of happy hormones like serotonin and dopamine.

In spite of the recent research findings, the authors do not recommend that depressed adults increase caffeine consumption. “Overall, our results suggest that there is little further benefit for consumption above two to three cups/day or 400 mg of caffeine/day,” the authors wrote.

Likewise, there’s plenty of research out there reporting on coffee’s well-known negative effects. Caffeine is a drug. While low to moderate doses are generally safe, caffeine is addictive and users can become dependent on it and find it difficult to quit or even cut back.

Other negative side-effects coffee drinkers may experience include insomnia, disturbed sleep cycles and consumption of more daily calories.

Regardless, we’ll raise our mugs to this most recent study for giving us one more validation for grabbing another cup of our favorite java.