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The caffeine spike from a morning cup of coffee helps millions of Britons to wake up and face the day ahead.

But there’s one unexpected benefit of glugging cups of the black stuff: it could help slash your chance of an early death.

And drinking four cups of coffee each day is the point at which the benefit really kicks in, according to a major study on 20,000 middle-aged men and women.

Researchers from Hospital de Navarra in Spain found that the people in their study who drank coffee regularly had mortality rates almost two thirds lower than those who didn’t.

As well as caffeine, coffee contains antioxidants - which could be responsible for any health benefits. The study tracked 19,986 people over an average period of 10 years.

At the start, all participants provided detailed information about their lifestyle, health history, and dietary habits – including coffee consumption.

Around 1 in 60 participants died during the study, with those who drank coffee regularly having the lowest death rates.

The link between coffee consumption and decreased mortality rates was particularly pronounced among older people.