ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – A major European study has upheld American research suggesting coffee drinkers live longer.

In one study, data from more than half a million people across 10 European countries shows higher coffee consumption is linked to a lower risk of death from all natural causes.

The American study was funded by the National Cancer Institute and it followed 185,000 ethnically diverse people over 16 years.

People that drink one cup of coffee a day, are 12 percent less likely to die than non-coffee drinkers. Those that drink two to three cups a day, reduce their chances of death by 18 percent.

The benefits appear to be the same for people of all ethnic backgrounds – no matter how the coffee is prepared.

What lead researchers can not say is why.

“Coffee contains over 1,000 chemical compounds and which combination of those may be beneficial for health, is really uncertain,” Lead Researcher Neil Murphy says.

CBS News Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook says researchers are stopping short of writing a prescription. He adds there are some potential side effects to caffeine.

“For example, acid reflux can cause heart burn where you can get palpitations,” LaPook says. “It was interesting that the editorial said we’re not at the point where we are prescribing coffee as a way of benefiting your health.”

He says it’s good there’s increasing evidence that moderate consumption of coffee can be part of the healthy lifestyle and diet.

When it comes to cardiovascular and digestive track diseases, the study shows antioxidants found in coffee have a protective effect over the body.

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