There is solid and ever growing evidence that regular coffee consumption is associated with reduced risk of many age-associated diseases including cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and Parkinson’s as some examples.
One line of thought for the putative benefits of coffee consumption is the action of antioxidant polyphenols found in coffee. However, there is increasing proof that caffeine itself may have a direct effect on the biochemical pathways of lifespan regulation.
The latest research looks at the lowly yeast cell. Though a single cell organism, yeast is the simplest of a eukaryotic cell, of which humans and other animals are composed.
In the study researchers exposed yeast cells to caffeine.
The study focused on an important cell protein called mTOR, a molecule known to be a key cellular switch regulating growth and lifespan. It is known that inhibition of mTOR generally reduces cell metabolism and growth, and prolongs lifespan across several species.
It was demonstrated that yeast exposed to caffeine, had prolonged lifespan and that this effect was mediated by mTOR.
Thus this research demonstrates caffeine directly prolongs lifespan through a key metabolic pathway, and suggests the benefit of coffee in prevention of disease may occur through this mechanism.