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Have Another Cup of Joe: Coffee Makes People Happier, Cuts Suicide Risk in Half

Jul 28, 2013 01:43 AM EDT
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Coffee drinkers have something to celebrate as new research says that the popular beverage has some surprisingly great benefits.

Researchers at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) have found that drinking several cups of coffee daily appears to lower the risk of suicide in both men and women by nearly 50 percent.

"Unlike previous investigations, we were able to assess association of consumption of caffeinated and non-caffeinated beverages, and we identify caffeine as the most likely candidate of any putative protective effect of coffee," the lead researcher Michel Lucas, research fellow in the Department of Nutrition at HSPH said in a press statement.

The study goes on to note that coffee achieves this by stimulating the central nervous system and plays the role of a mild antidepressant by enhancing the production of certain neurotransmitters in the brain that include serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline.

In order to evaluate the correlation between coffee consumption and suicide risk in men and women, the researchers analyzed the data of 43,599 men who had participated in the Health Professionals Follow Up Study (HPFS) between 1988 and 2008. They also analyzed 73,820 women who were a part of the Nurses' Health Study (NHS) conducted between 1992 and 2008 and another set of 91,005 women who were a part of Nurses' Health study II (NHS II) between 1993 and 2007.

Researchers then assessed the participant's intake of caffeine, coffee; decaffeinated coffee was assessed every four years through questionnaires. The consumption of caffeine was calculated not just from coffee consumption but also other sources such as caffeinated soft drinks, chocolate and tea. But they noticed that in the NHS group coffee was the major source of caffeine (80 percent) followed by 79 percent in NHS II group as well as HPFS. In the three studies they saw nearly 277 deaths that occurred due to suicide.

Despite the clear evidence obtained in this study the researchers do not recommend that the depressed adults increase caffeine consumption.

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