Discover more from Understandably by Bill Murphy Jr.
And now for something completely different
Coffee, light and sweet. Also, 7 other things worth knowing today.
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Need coffee now
by Bill Murphy Jr.
Yesterday's newsletter, amirite? It was fun and cathartic for me, but a bit lengthy.
And, as readers and commenters put it (nicely): “random,” “jumpy,” “ADHD-infused, and “all over the place.”
I would say that I wrote before I’d had my morning coffee, except that I wrote it mostly in the evening.
Anyway, for today: Focus. And also, as it happens, coffee.
It just so happens I have just the thing. In an effort to keep things timely and relevant and light (and sweet, as you shall see), let’s explore yet another new scientific study promoting the idea that drinking a ton of coffee is a really, really, really good health choice.
Writing last month in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, university researchers say they examined lifestyle, health, and biographical data relating to 171,616 people in Great Britain who were part of the UK Biobank collection effort, and the result was a resounding win for Team Coffee Drinkers.
Among their findings, after looking at data compiled over seven years:
Men and women between the ages of 37 and 73 who drank between 1.5 and 3.5 cups of coffee each day had up to a 30 percent lower chance of dying from any cause during the study period than those who did not.
The more coffee people drank up to that limit, whether caffeinated or not, the lower their risk of death.
Perhaps surprisingly, people who reported drinking their coffee with sugar were just as unlikely—and in some cases even less likely—to die from any cause during the study period.
A final surprise: While coffee with sugar was related to lower risk of death, the data regarding those who drank their coffee with artificial sweeteners was inconclusive.
"It's huge," Dr. Christina Wee, a deputy editor of the Annals of Internal Medicine and an associate professor at Harvard Medical School, told The New York Times in a report on the study. "There are very few things that reduce your mortality by 30 percent."
Now, this isn't the first massive study to suggest that drinking significant amounts of coffee could be related to longer lifespan. For example:
A study of 347,077 people out of the University of South Australia that suggested that five cups a day is the point at which health problems might begin to show up due to coffee consumption, and could even outweigh the benefits.
A 2017 study funded by the American Heart Association and the University of Colorado School of Medicine suggested that for every cup of coffee people consume each day, risk of heart failure or stroke goes down by 8 percent.
A Spanish study found that drinking four cups of coffee per day led to a 64 percent lower risk of dying among study participants compared with non-coffee drinkers.
And a British study of 498,123 people found that those who habitually drank coffee were between 10 and 15 percent less likely to die during any 10-year period.
If that last study on the list sounds somewhat similar to the one we're discussing now, it is! Although, there’s a big difference between 30 percent and 10-15 percent.
Also, besides backing up those earlier conclusions, the key difference is that the more recent study also looked at the benefits of sweetened coffee.
There are a few caveats. First, there's our old friend "correlation versus causation."
In short, maybe it's not the coffee that provides the lower risk of death; maybe instead it's that people who drink coffee are also more likely to do something else healthy.
Also, when we say coffee "sweetened with sugar," we mean a teaspoon. That's a lot less than you'd find in sugary coffee concoctions at Starbucks or other cafés.
And the study didn't address adding milk, cream, or other similar products.
Still, nearly two-thirds of Americans now drink coffee every day. It’s the most popular beverage in America (more popular than tap water, although if you combine tap water and spring water, water wins).
And, consumption is up 14 percent since before the pandemic.
So, 2/3 of people drink it; it’s associated with longevity, and it keeps you alert so you don’t write email newsletters that veer wildly from one topic to the next. Seems like a no-brainer.
I’m left with just one question: I wonder how much longer a tortoise would live, if we could only convince it to drink coffee?
Very specific request; won’t tell you why yet
Were you born on July 9, 1951? Are you turning 71 years old next Thursday? Well, first, Happy Birthday! But second, could you email me and let me know? I have something planned for that day and I would like to ask you something. Thanks!
Also, anyone who is within a few years either side of 70, and whose birthday is either October 6, July 25, August 5, December 11, or November 25—email me as well.
Anyone who figures out what I’m writing about based on these clues—well, you can email me to see if you’re right, but please don’t give it away!
Winner-winner, chicken dinner
Reader Bob Brislan was correct in his contention that 70 percent or more of Understandably readers would agree that "Putin was wrong to invade Ukraine."
In fact, as I'm writing this there are 1,408 votes, 97% of which agreed. Also, at least two readers emailed me to say they either accidentally voted no when they meant yes, or had some kind of tech issue.
7 other things worth knowing today
NATO officially asked Sweden and Finland to join the military alliance; Putin threatened to "respond" if NATO positions any troops or infrastructure in either country. "With Sweden and Finland, we don't have the problems that we have with Ukraine. They want to join NATO, go ahead," Putin told Russian state television. "Everything was fine between us, but now there might be some tensions, there certainly will." (Reuters)
Singer R. Kelly was sentenced to 30 years in prison on Wednesday, after being convicted of racketeering, sex trafficking, and violations of the federal Mann Act. This guy did some really vile things over a long time and got away with it forever; BuzzFeed really broke the story and kept on it, leading to the reopened investigation and conviction. (FoxNews, BuzzFeed)
Speaking of the Mann Act (there's a phrase I doubt I've used before!), the FBI has opened a widening investigation into sex abuse in the Roman Catholic Church in New Orleans going back decades. The case looks specifically at whether priests violated the Mann Act by taking children across state lines to camps and amusement parks in Texas, Mississippi and Florida for abusive purposes. Some of the cases are very old but, Mann Act violations have no statute of limitations. (AP)
More than a third of Americans earning at least $250,000 annually say they are living paycheck to paycheck, and devoting all income to household expenses, according to a survey by industry publication Pymnts.com and LendingClub Corp. (Bloomberg)
About 80% of people in the U.S. have low to moderate cardiovascular health based on the American Heart Association’s new Life’s Essential 8™ checklist according to a new study published today in Circulation, the Association’s flagship, peer-reviewed journal. (Heart.org)
The owners of a California barbershop say they found an Olympic gold medal that had been stolen from the car of U.S. women’s volleyball starting setter Jordyn Poulter on May 25. The medal was in a plastic bag that had been stuffed behind their shop, and appeared to have been there for some time, the husband-and-wife owners said. (NBC News)
A group of 17 and 18-year-old students in Long Island, New York, went from walking the stage at their high school graduation on Friday to putting out a fire, minutes later. The students are also volunteers with the Port Jefferson Fire Department, and were busy celebrating their milestone and taking photos with their families shortly after their graduation ceremony when they were alerted to a nearby fire. "We were still in our gowns, and we still had our diplomas with us and we stripped off our gowns. I didn't even realize I still had my tie on," one of them recalled. (Good Morning America)