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Can Coffee Kill You?

Can Coffee Kill You?
Photograph by Martin Soeby/Gallery Stock

Scribblers like me can’t resist coffee news. Scientists toil for months—presumably in windowless labs full of microscopes and pipettes—to collect, sort, and interpret mountains of data about the health effects of the world’s most popular drug and publish the results in meticulous detail in a peer-reviewed journal. And, after downing probably a little more than our share of the 400 million cups of coffee Americans drink every day, we spring into action, or at least sit down and type out pandering headlines like:

• “Coffee—A Cancer Culprit?” (Newsweek, 1981)
• “Is Caffeine Bad for You?” (Newsweek, 1982)
• “Grounds to Give Up Coffee?” (Los Angeles Times, 1990)
• “Demon Coffee Bean?” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 1995)
• “The Latest on Coffee? Don’t Worry. Drink Up” (New York Times, 1995)
• “Jittery? Peevish? Can’t Sleep? What Are You Drinking?” (New York Times, 2004)
• “Coffee as a Health Drink?” (New York Times, 2006)
• “Too Young for Coffee? (Boston Globe, 2007)
• “Can Caffeine Help Prevent Diabetes?” (Montreal Gazette, 2010)
• “Can Coffee, Tea Lower Brain Cancer Risk?”(USA Today, 2010)
• “Ah, Good for You to the Last Drop?” (Washington Post, 2011) … wouldn’t you like to know.