Coffee Spoonful Sugar

Drinking coffee linked to lower risk of death – even if you take it sweetened with sugar

teaspoon sugar

According to a new study, moderate coffee drinkers were less likely to die than non-coffee drinkers. This was true even for people who sweeten their coffee with sugar.

Coffee is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the United States and around the world. In fact, according to the National Coffee Association, 66% of Americans drink coffee every day, making it the most popular drink — even more than tap water!

With all this consumption, it’s fortunate that studies have found possible health benefits of coffee consumption, including an association with a lower risk of death.

The researchers wondered if this association was true for sweetened coffee or if a spoonful of sugar would diminish its benefits. The findings were good news for coffee drinkers who like it sweet, as they revealed a reduced risk of death for moderate unsweetened and sweetened coffee drinkers.

A new cohort study found that compared to non-coffee drinkers, adults who drank moderate amounts (1.5 to 3.5 cups per day) of unsweetened coffee or coffee sweetened with sugar were less likely to die during a 7-year follow-up period. Results for those who used artificial sweeteners were less clear. The conclusions are published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Previous studies looking at the health effects of coffee have shown that coffee consumption is associated with a lower risk of death, but have not distinguished between unsweetened coffee and coffee consumed with sugar or artificial sweeteners.

Sugar cubes and coffee

Researchers found that those who drank 1.5 to 3.5 cups of coffee sweetened with sugar per day had a 29 to 31 percent lower risk of dying than people who did not drink coffee.

Researchers at Southern Medical University in Guangzhou, China, used health behavior questionnaire data from the UK Biobank study to assess associations between consumption of sweetened, artificially sweetened and unsweetened coffee with mortality all confounded and cause-specific. More than 171,000 participants from the UK with no known heart disease or cancer answered several questions about eating and health behaviors to determine coffee drinking habits.

The authors found that over the 7-year follow-up period, participants who drank any amount of unsweetened coffee were 16-21% less likely to die than participants who drank no coffee. They also found that participants who drank 1.5 to 3.5 cups of coffee sweetened with sugar per day were 29 to 31 percent less likely to die than participants who did not drink coffee. The authors noted that adults who drank sugary coffee only added about 1 teaspoon of sugar per cup of coffee on average. The results were inconclusive for participants who used artificial sweeteners in their coffee.

An accompanying editorial by the editors of Annals of Internal Medicine notes that whether coffee has qualities that could make possible health benefits, confounding variables, including harder-to-measure differences in socioeconomic status, diet, and other lifestyle factors, may affect the results. The authors add that the participants’ data is at least 10 years old and was collected in a country where tea is an equally popular beverage. They warn that the average daily amount of sugar per cup of coffee recorded in this analysis is much lower than that of specialty drinks in popular coffee chain restaurants, and many coffee drinkers may drink it instead of others. drinks, which makes comparisons with non-drinkers more difficult. .

Based on this data, clinicians can tell their patients that it is not necessary for most coffee drinkers to eliminate the beverage from their diet, but to be wary of higher calorie specialty coffees.


“Efficacy and Harms of Contraceptive Counseling and Provision Interventions for Women: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis” by Heidi D. Nelson, MD, MPH, Amy Cantor, MD, MPH, Rebecca M. Jungbauer, DrPH, MA, Karen B. Eden, PhD, Blair Darney, PhD, MPH, Katherine Ahrens, PhD, MPH, Amanda Burgess, MPPM, Chandler Atchison, MPH, Rose Goueth, MS and Rongwei Fu, PhD, May 24, 2022, Annals of Internal Medicine.
DOI: 10.7326/M21-4380

“The Potential Health Benefits of Coffee: Does a Spoonful of Sugar Make Everything Go Away?” by Christina C. Wee, MD, MPH, May 31, 2022, Annals of Internal Medicine.
DOI: 10.7326/M22-1465

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