|If life "begins with coffee", will it also help you end later with coffee?|
What is surprising about Tucker's cross-sectional study, however, is that his analysis of data of 5826 adults from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) shows that the consumption of coffee's main active ingredient was inversely related to telomere length (F = 15.1, P = 0.0005) - or, to be more precise that the subject's telomeres were 35.4 base pairs for each 100 mg of caffeine they consumed on a daily basis; and that after adjusting for the covariates.
Caffeine shortens and coffee lengthens your telomeres - How's that possible?
Well, the most probable answer is that other substances in coffee, such as chlorogenic acid, ameliorate the negative effects caffeine will have on the length of your telomeres.
|Figure 1: The caffeine intake is negatively associated with the length of the telomeres according to the data from 5826 adults from NHANES (1999–2002) in both coffee drinkers and abstainers (Tucker. 2017).|
- each 100 mg of caffeine consumed by coffee drinkers was associated with telomeres that were 36.7 base pairs shorter than the cohort average (F = 9.0, P = 0.0054), while
- each 100 mg of caffeine consumed by non-coffee drinkers was associated with telomeres that were 40.0 base pairs shorter (F = 8.5, P = 0.0067).
This observation alone can't explain that coffee intake, in general, was positively related to telomere length (F = 12.6, P = 0.0013), independent of the covariates. If we take into consideration that coffee is not the only source of caffeine in the average American's diet, however, another factor that may interfere with the telomere length emerges: sodas, energy drinks & co.
|A short telomere length correlates with an increased risk of mortality and with the (subjectively) rated health status of older subjects in Njajou (2009).|
Telomeres don't just count in the years before you die, though, Njajou et al. (2009) showed that telomere length is also predictive of years of healthy life, too. Eventually, the research on the predictive accuracy of telomere length on life expectancy and/or health is yet in its infancy.
|Figure 2: Caffeine intake (mg/d) from beverages and foods by age group, NHANES 2011–2012 (Drewnowski. 2016)|
- Drewnowski, Adam, and Colin D. Rehm. "Sources of caffeine in diets of US children and adults: Trends by beverage type and purchase location." Nutrients 8.3 (2016): 154.
- Frary, Carol D., Rachel K. Johnson, and Min Qi Wang. "Food sources and intakes of caffeine in the diets of persons in the United States." Journal of the American Dietetic Association 105.1 (2005): 110-113.
- Lee, J. Y., et al. "Association between dietary patterns in the remote past and telomere length." European journal of clinical nutrition 69.9 (2015): 1048-1052.
- Liu, Jason J., et al. "Coffee Consumption Is Positively Associated with Longer Leukocyte Telomere Length in the Nurses’ Health Study." The Journal of nutrition 146.7 (2016): 1373-1378.
- Njajou, Omer T., et al. "Association between telomere length, specific causes of death, and years of healthy life in health, aging, and body composition, a population-based cohort study." The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences 64.8 (2009): 860-864.
- Tucker, Larry A. "Caffeine consumption and telomere length in men and women of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES)." Nutrition & Metabolism 14.1 (2017): 10.
- Weischer, Maren, et al. "Short telomere length, myocardial infarction, ischemic heart disease, and early death." Arteriosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology 32.3 (2012): 822-829.