Coffee Mortality? Don’t Put Down Your Latte Just Yet

The coffee mortality study linking delicious, tasty lattes to early death has dampened spirits this week — and it seems that everyone who read the report this morning over a cup of espresso had the same sad reaction.

As most people noticed, the coffee mortality study is one of several delving into the risks and benefits of America’s favorite drug. But more than that, it seems that like eggs, coffee is intermittently a secret health powerhouse or death at breakfast, depending on the month.

But if the coffee mortality study made you choke on your cappuccino, you don’t have to give up the habit just yet. (Which, in a time when diet coke and cigarettes are verboten, is a ray of light for the neurotic.)

Conflicting evidence aside (several other studies have linked coffee to decreased mortality), Forbes points out some specific considerations for this particular look into the health benefits and dangers of coffee:

“One problem is that no one really knows what mechanism/s could explain the coffee-death link. Some are candidates, however: There’s coffee’s ability to boost epinephrine (adrenalin) levels in the body, its inhibition of insulin function (though this is controversial), and the fact that it may raise blood pressure and homocysteine levels, which are both known to increase heart risk (though since heart disease was not increased in the study, these seem less likely).”

The site also notes that a lot of unanswered questions remain after the admittedly large study was sliced and diced, adding:

“It could be that people who are dying this young are already predisposed to fatal health problems in various ways, although this is somewhat speculative. Study author Chip Lavie points out that heavy coffee drinkers differ in a number of ways from less avid consumers, so there may be other, as-yet-undiscovered things going on.”

Did the coffee mortality study freak you out? Enough to break up with Starbucks, at least until the next coffee study?