Mayo says: Drop that fourth coffee!

When I started in reporting, the bourbon-in-the-drawer guys in the newsroom were nearly extinct. In their place came the continuous-coffee-buzz crowd, legions of young, shaky but still surprisingly coherent reporters and editors who met ridiculous deadlines fueled by bad coffee.

Four cups before noon. Four cups after. That’s how the paper got out!

Now comes Mayo Clinic Proceedings to tell me my youthful indiscretion with the seductive bean might as well be my epitaph.

After examining a lot of data, Mayo tells us:

… a positive association between coffee consumption and all-cause mortality was observed in men and in men and women younger than 55 years. On the basis of these findings, it seems appropriate to suggest that younger people avoid heavy coffee consumption (ie, averaging 4 cups per day). However, this finding should be assessed in future studies of other populations.

USA Today put it succinctly: If you’re younger than 55 and you’ve been drinking more than four cups of coffee a day, your risk of death is higher than people who don’t drink so much coffee.

Nice. Just what a 51-year-old journalist needed to hear.

Happily, my days of four-plus coffees per day are long gone.

I’m also oddly reassured by the fact that Mayo still has a doctor on its site extolling the virtues of coffee.

And hey, in May, during Digestive Disease Week, Mayo researchers “linked coffee consumption with reduced risk of primary sclerosing cholangitis , a disease of the bile ducts that causes inflammation and subsequent duct obstruction that ultimately can lead to cirrhosis of the liver, liver failure and biliary cancer.”

What’s the takeaway? All things in moderation, just like Aristotle and your mom told you.

So I’m not worried, although I am a little jumpy. Could be just the caffeine kicking in.