Coffee drinking linked to 50% lower risk of suicide

Go ahead and add this to the "Pro" column on the ever-growing list of reasons to either avoid coffee or guzzle it down wholesale: new research out of the Harvard School of Public Health concludes drinking several cups of coffee a day could reduce the risk of suicide in men and women by about 50%.

Via the Harvard Gazette:

In the new study, researchers examined data on 43,599 men enrolled in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study (HPFS) (1988–2008), 73,820 women in the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) (1992–2008), and 91,005 women in the Nurses’ Health Study II (NHSII) (1993–2007). Caffeine, coffee, and decaffeinated coffee intake was assessed every four years by questionnaires. Caffeine consumption was calculated from coffee and other sources, including tea, caffeinated soft drinks, and chocolate. However, coffee was the major caffeine source 80 percent for NHS, 71 percent for NHS II, and 79 percent for HPFS. Among the participants in the three studies, there were 277 deaths from suicide.

In spite of the findings, the authors do not recommend that depressed adults increase caffeine consumption, because most individuals adjust their caffeine intake to an optimal level for them and an increase could result in unpleasant side effects. “Overall, our results suggest that there is little further benefit for consumption above two to three cups/day or 400 mg of caffeine/day,” the authors wrote.

These new results bring several things to mind. One: I suppose this makes sense in light of recent findings that suggest drinking coffee may help lower the risk of depression. Two: I wonder if any patterns were observed across professions, given the link between means of employment and coffee consumption. Three: I really like using that screenshot of Fry from the episode of Futurama where he tries to drink 100 cups of coffee when I write posts about coffee.

Read the study here. More at the Harvard Gazette.