Coffee Suicide Rates: 2 To 4 Cups A Day Cuts Suicide Risk In Half, Study Says

By iScienceTimes Staff on July 26, 2013 2:22 PM EDT

latte art
Drinking two to four cups of coffee a day can halve the risk of suicide, a new study finds. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Those who drink two or four cups of coffee a day are half as likely to commit suicide, according to new research from the Harvard School of Public Health.

In the study, published in the World Journal of Biological Psychiatry, researchers looked at 200,000 people's caffeine consumption over a period of 20 years. What the Harvard researchers found was those who took in 400 milligrams of caffeine a day -- roughly two to three cups of coffee -- were 50 percent less likely to commit suicide.

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While the caffeine consumption in the study came from multiple sources, between 71 and 80 percent of caffeine intake in the study came from coffee.

"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," said lead researcher Michel Lucas, research fellow in the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health, in a press release.

Coffee consumption may be linked to a lower suicide rate for a variety of reasons. Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system and may also act as a mild antidepressant by increasing levels of  serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline.  

The authors of the study said that people shouldn't necessarily increase their coffee or caffeine intake as a result of their findings. Most adults know the amount of caffeine that is optimal for them, and increasing caffeine can have other side effects that may outweigh the lower suicide risk.

They also pointed out that the benefits seem to level out at two or three cups of coffee.

"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 said.

Another unrelated Harvard study from 2011 found that women who drank at least two cups of coffee every day were less prone to depression.

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