A cup of coffee

July 13, 2017

HONOLULU - Drinking coffee was associated with a reduced risk of death in the 24-year long Multiethnic Cohort (MEC) study conducted at the University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center. Coffee drinkers had a reduced risk of death from heart disease, cancer, diabetes, stroke, kidney and respiratory disease.

  1. One cup a day was associated with a 12 percent decrease in risk of death overall, and
  2. two to three cups with an 18 percent decrease.

"As in other states, coffee is one of the most popular beverages in Hawaiʻi, the only state in the U.S. where coffee is grown commercially. Although this study does not show causation or point to what chemicals in coffee may have a protective effect, it is clear that coffee can be incorporated into a healthy diet and lifestyle," said Song-Yi Park, PhD, first author of the study and assistant specialist in the UH Cancer Center's Cancer Epidemiology Program.

The study published in Annals of Internal Medicine found no further decrease in risk of death with higher coffee consumption. Also, the health benefit was seen regardless of whether coffee was caffeinated or decaffeinated, suggesting that the beneficial effect comes from the coffee itself, not caffeine.

The study confirmed that higher consumption of coffee is associated with a lower risk of death, and that this association exists in other populations - African Americans, Japanese Americans, Native Hawaiians and Latinos - who have different lifestyles and disease susceptibilities. The findings are consistent with previous studies that looked at majority Caucasian populations.

Multiethnic Cohort (MEC)

The MEC is a prospective epidemiological study in which 215,000 Hawaiʻi and Los Angeles residents, aged 45-75 at recruitment in 1993-1996, completed a questionnaire about their dietary habits. The participants are being followed for occurrence of cancer, other chronic diseases, and death. The MEC study is being conducted to find the best approach to achieving a health promoting diet in Hawaiʻi and across the nation.

For the current study, researchers analyzed data from 185,855 participants:

  1. 17 % African-Americans
  2. 29 % Japanese-Americans
  3. 22 % Latinos
  4. 25 % whites, and
  5. 7 % Native Hawaiians


Coffee Drinking and Mortality in 10 European Countries: A Multinational Cohort Study