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MILWAUKEE-- One of life s simple pleasures just got a little sweeter. After years of waffling research on coffee and health, even some fear that java might raise the risk of heart disease, a big study finds the opposite: Coffee drinkers are a little more likely to live longer. Regular or decaf doesn t matter.

The study of 400,000 people is the largest ever done on the issue, and the results should reassure any coffee lovers who think it s a guilty pleasure that may do harm.

Our study suggests that s really not the case, said lead researcher Neal Freedman of the National Cancer Institute. There may actually be a modest benefit of coffee drinking.

No one knows why. Coffee contains a thousand things that can affect health, from helpful antioxidants to tiny amounts of substances linked to cancer. The most widely studied ingredient caffeine didn t play a role in the new study s results.

It s not that earlier studies were wrong. There is evidence that coffee can raise LDL, or bad cholesterol, and blood pressure at least short-term, and those in turn can raise the risk of heart disease.

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