Caffeine Extends Maximum Lifespan by 52% in C. Elegans – and Coffee Extends Lifespan in Humans

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by Nils Osmar. March 8, 2022

For life extension in both worms and humans, caffeine and coffee deserve special attention.

  • This 2020 study sums up the life extending effects seen in C. Elegans from numerous plant-based and fungal-based products.
  • For maximum life extension, caffeine is a clear winner; it extends median lifespan by 32% and maximum lifespan by 52%
  • The article points out that the mechanisms by which life is extended are easy to study in short-lived organisms like C. Elegans, and are conserved in more complex organisms.
  • Of course there are also significant differences between worms and humans.

From the study (emphases are mine):

“Several epidemiological studies suggest that some of the plant-derived molecules described here may reduce human mortality and chronic diseases in humans.

For instance, individuals who regularly consume coffee—arguably the highest source of polyphenols and caffeine in the human diet—live longer and show a reduced incidence of cancer, cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease compared with non-consumers.

“Similarly, people who regularly take metformin [43] or glucosamine [44, 45], as well as those who have a higher dietary intake of spermidine [46], live longer than non-users or controls.

“Finally, many CR mimetics derived from natural sources and studied in C. elegans, including quercetin, resveratrol and spermidine, have shown promising results in clinical trials …”.

From a recent CNN article:

One study surveyed more than 520,000 people in 10 European countries, making it the largest study to date on coffee and mortality, and found that drinking more coffee could significantly lower a person’s risk of mortality.

The second study was more novel, as it focused on nonwhite populations. After surveying over 185,000 African-Americans, Native Americans, Hawaiians, Japanese-Americans, Latinos and whites, the researchers found that coffee increases longevity across various races.Coffee good for you, but it’s OK to hold back

People who drank two to four cups a day had an 18% lower risk of death compared with people who did not drink coffee, according to the study.

These findings are consistent with previous studies that had looked at majority white populations, said Veronica Wendy Setiawan, associate professor of preventative medicine at USC’s Keck School of Medicine, who led the study on nonwhite populations…

From a Stanford Medicine Article:

Stanford University School of Medicine scientists have unearthed a connection between advancing age, systemic inflammation, cardiovascular disease and caffeine consumption.

Extensive analysis of blood samples, survey data and medical and family histories obtained from more than 100 human participants in a multiyear study has revealed a fundamental inflammatory mechanism associated with human aging and the chronic diseases that come with it.

The study, published online Jan. 16 in Nature Medicine, implicates this inflammatory process as a driver of cardiovascular disease and increased rates of mortality overall. Metabolites, or breakdown products, of nucleic acids — the molecules that serve as building blocks for our genes — circulating in the blood can trigger this inflammatory process, the study found.

The study also provides evidence that caffeine and its own metabolites may counter the action of these circulating nucleic-acid metabolites, possibly explaining why coffee drinkers tend to live longer than abstainers.


The human studies showing a life extending effect correlate with the consumption of both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee. This suggests that there may be other compounds in coffee which extend lifespan in addition to caffeine.

What I’m Doing

I drink three cups of coffee most mornings. I sometimes drink white tea (which is also rich in caffeine) instead. Both drinks promote autophagy and AMPK activation.


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