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Can drinking coffee lower your suicide risk?

Two years after wondering whether coffee has become the new green tea for all its purported health benefits, I’ve come across new research from the Harvard School of Public Health drawing a connection between drinking caffeinated coffee and a lower risk of committing suicide.

The study released last month linked drinking two to three cups of caffeinated coffee per day with a 45 percent lower suicide risk. Those who drank four of more cups had a 53 percent lower risk.

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So, can coffee actually make you happier? Or do those who gravitate toward Starbucks tend to be busy social people who are less prone to depression?

The research, which examined the coffee consumption habits of nearly 200,000 nurses and health professionals, couldn’t answer that question. But caffeine is a stimulant that can lift your mood, at least temporarily.

If you already drink coffee, this new finding gives you another reason to feel comfortable continuing the habit. If you don’t, though, the new finding doesn’t provide enough of a reason to start.

Here are some other things you can try instead to help ward off depression: exercise, meditation, and getting out in the sun for 10 to 15 minutes each day.

Deborah Kotz can be reached at dkotz@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @debkotz2.
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