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5 Coffee Habits That May Be Shortening Your Life, According to Science

We turned to research to learn which coffee habits need a kick to the curb.
FACT CHECKED BY Samantha Boesch

Let's start with the good news: There are a lot of health benefits to drinking coffee on a regular basis. Coffee can actually do wonders for your body, and can even help you lose weight. Coffee has also been known to help improve brain health and give you a boost of energy when you need. It has even been found to potentially help reduce the risk of things like heart disease and diabetes.

While coffee can provide some helpful benefits, it also isn't for everyone. If you have IBS or other gut issues, have consistent anxiety, or are pregnant or breastfeeding, coffee may not be for you.

For those who do want to drink coffee on a regular basis, it's important to know that if you're not careful with your coffee habits, that magical cup of Joe may be harmful to your health. Coffee habits include things like how much you consume, when you drink it, what kind you drink, and what you add to your cup.

To learn more about the potential harm of these habits, we turned to research to learn which ones could be shortening your life, according to science. Here they are, and for more healthy tips, be sure to check out our list of 8 Coffee Shop Chains With the Best Quality Coffee in America.

You're drinking too much coffee

Man barista making coffee latte

This one may be obvious, but it's a coffee habit worth noting. One previous study that evaluated 40,000 adults noticed that drinking more than four cups of coffee a day could have negative effects on one's lifespan. However, the scientists that authored the study did note that having 28 cups a week is fine (exactly four cups each day of the week), but drinking more than that could result in negative consequences in terms of longevity.

Your coffee order is drowning in sugar

Barista adding flavored syrups for coffee

Have you ever actually looked at the nutrition information for your go-to coffee order? If you're ordering a large caramel latte at your favorite coffee shop, you're likely consuming at least 30 grams of sugar at once—sometimes more at places like Starbucks or Dunkin', depending on how you customize your order.

Studies have shown that eating too much sugar can lead to an early death. And no, it's not due to obesity or weight gain. Rather, it's the fact that sugar can cause dehydration, which can be a symptom of high blood sugar, and if left unchecked may increase your risk of diabetes.

Instead of ordering a sugary latte, why not ask for a regular latte with a small caramel swirl on top? You can mix in the caramel and still get that same great taste, but with significantly less sugar. Or why not make one of these 12 Tastiest Homemade Coffee Drinks From a Nutritionist.

You're adding too much creamer

Coffee creamer

Similar to your sugary latte, if you're not careful with your creamer, your coffee at home will also be drowning in sugar. Choosing to use half-and-half, or a little milk, (or even almond milk), would be a better choice than a sugary coffee creamer. However, if you prefer a sweeter coffee taste, simply be careful when measuring out the amount of creamer you put in your cup.

You're too committed to decaf

cup of coffee

Seems a bit counterintuitive, right? But it's true! One study published by the journal Longevity & Healthspan says caffeine can actually help extend your life span, improve your health, and delay age-associated diseases like Alzheimer's. That's because caffeine can help with dietary restriction and reduced insulin signaling. Just be careful of how much caffeine you consume. According to the Advances in Psychiatric Treatment study "Neuropsychiatric Effects of Caffeine," consuming over 1,000 milligrams of caffeine a day can reportedly cause negative effects on the body including increased anxiety, insomnia, and digestive issues.

 Here's Exactly How Much Caffeine Is Too Much Caffeine

You're not drinking it at all

refusing coffee

As we said, there are quite a few benefits to drinking coffee regularly—even in terms of longevity! According to the AARP, coffee drinkers have a lower risk of death compared to coffee abstainers by 10 to 15%. So maybe it's time you started brewing yourself a cup in the morning.

A previous version of this story was published on July 22, 2022. It has been updated to include additional copy and proofreading revisions, as well as updated contextual links.

Kiersten Hickman
Kiersten Hickman is a freelance health and nutrition journalist. Read more about Kiersten