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Drink Four Cups of Coffee a Day and You Could Live Longer, Study Says

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If you drink at least one cup of coffee per day, you're in the company of 54 percent of American adults who do the same. Raise your daily consumption levels any higher and you'll venture into the territory of more devoted coffee fanatics. But enjoying coffee in moderation isn't the only way to reap the beverage's health benefits. As one study suggests, having four cups of coffee a day can lower your risk of early death.

The new research, which was released by the European Society of Cardiology, includes data from nearly 20,000 participants in Spain. The volunteers entered the study at an average age of 37.7 years old and were asked about their food and coffee-drinking habits as well as their health history and lifestyle choices.

After about 10 years, the subjects were revisited. Researchers found that those who reported drinking at least four cups of coffee a day were 64 percent more likely to avoid dying early than those who barely drank coffee at all. With each additional two cups the study participants consumed per day, their risk of all-cause mortality was cut by another 22 percent.

Lead study author Adela Navarro told The Telegraph that these results are likely tied to coffee's anti-inflammatory properties. Coffee is rich in antioxidants called polyphenols, which help prevent a variety of ailments like heart disease and Alzheimer's. The work of such compounds is most notable in coffee drinkers over a certain age, according to the study. While participants age 45 and older lowered their risk of dying by 30 percent with each additional two cups of coffee they drank, the younger subjects showed no significant correlation.

Of course, any new study that touts the life-saving benefits of coffee must be weighed against previous research on the negative effects of caffeine addiction. That means you shouldn't automatically boost your coffee intake to four cups a day and expect to get healthier without changing other aspects of your lifestyle. But if those four cups are already a part of your routine, you can continue to chug them down relatively guilt-free.

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Animals
Owning a Dog May Add Years to Your Life, Study Shows
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We've said that having a furry friend can reduce depression, promote better sleep, and encourage more exercise. Now, research has indicated that caring for a canine might actually extend your lifespan.

Previous studies have shown that dog owners have an innate sense of comfort and increased well-being. A new paper published in Scientific Reports and conducted by Uppsala University in Sweden looked at the health records of 3.4 million of the country's residents. These records typically include personal data like marital status and whether the individual owns a pet. Researchers got additional insight from a national dog registry providing ownership information. According to the study, those with a dog for a housemate were less likely to die from cardiovascular disease or any other cause during the study's 12-year duration.

The study included adults 40 to 80 years old, with a mean age of 57. Researchers found that dogs were a positive predictor in health, particularly among singles. Those who had one were 33 percent less likely to die early than those who did not. Authors didn't conclude the exact reason behind the correlation: It could be active people are more likely to own dogs, that dogs promoted more activity, or that psychological factors like lowered incidences of depression might bolster overall well-being. Either way, having a pooch in your life could mean living a longer one.

[h/t Bloomberg]

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Live Smarter
Not Sure About Your Tap Water? Here's How to Test for Contaminants
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In the wake of Flint, Michigan's water crisis, you may have begun to wonder: Is my tap water safe? How would I know? To put your mind at ease—or just to satisfy your scientific curiosity—you can find out exactly what's in your municipal water pretty easily, as Popular Science reports. Depending on where you live, it might even be free.

A new water quality test called Tap Score, launched on Kickstarter in June 2017, helps you test for the most common household water contaminants for $120 per kit. You just need to take a few samples, mail them to the lab, and you'll get the results back in 10 days, telling you about lead levels, copper and cadmium content, arsenic, and other common hazardous materials that can make their way into water via pipes or wells. If you're mostly worried about lead, you can get a $40 test that only tells you about the lead and copper content of your water.

In New York State, a free lead-testing program will send you a test kit on request that allows you to send off samples of your water to a state-certified lab for processing, no purchase required. A few weeks later, you'll get a letter with the results, telling you what kind of lead levels were found in your water. This option is great if you live in New York, but if your state doesn't offer free testing (or only offers it to specific locations, like schools), there are other budget-friendly ways to test, too.

While mailing samples of your water off to a certified lab is the most accurate way to test your water, you can do it entirely at home with inexpensive strip tests that will only set you back $10 to $15. These tests aren't as sensitive as lab versions, and they don't test for as many contaminants, but they can tell you roughly whether you should be concerned about high levels of toxic metals like lead. The strip tests will only give you positive or negative readings, though, whereas the EPA and other official agencies test for the concentration of contaminants (the parts-per-billion) to determine the safety of a water source. If you're truly concerned with what's in your water, you should probably stick to sending your samples off to a professional, since you'll get a more detailed report of the results from a lab than from a colored strip.

In the future, there will likely be an even quicker way to test for lead and other metals—one that hooks up to your smartphone. Gitanjali Rao, an 11-year-old from Colorado, won the 2017 Young Scientist Challenge by inventing Tethys, a faster lead-testing device than what's currently on the market. With Tethys, instead of waiting for a lab, you can get results instantly. It's not commercially available yet, though, so for now, we'll have to stick with mail-away options.

[h/t Popular Science]

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