Jeff Vrabel: The magic and mystery of coffee immortality

Jeff Vrabel

Because Science is difficult and includes many absurd words and phrases with which I am not familiar, such as "continuum" and "polyphenols" and "mice," I have enacted a new personal rule wherein I only read studies in the news that pertain directly, indisputably to me.

I am not interested in studies about "global warming," or "people who have scurvy," or "ways I can improve the general good by changing a few small, convenient personal habits, like not driving a Nissan Armada at 85 mph and setting the thermostat higher than 65 in the summer." I am a very, very busy man, and Science is a large field that also apparently covers rocks and outer space, and I don't know who has the time to keep up with all this flip-flopping -- eggs are good for you, no they're bad, and you should drink eight cups of water a day except you shouldn't and you can't eat walrus meat when you're pregnant, or whatever. So unless Science can magic me up a helper monkey or something to take care of all this "reading," I'm gonna just pick and choose which studies I believe in (Note to Science: I would also accept a helper walrus, because I am not a picky man, and I have always enjoyed tusks).

Anyway, shortly after enacting this new set of personal bylaws, I came across a study in the Newspaper -- which is the weird, papery thing that will print tomorrow all the news you saw on the Internet an hour ago -- that said that people who drink coffee may, in fact, live longer than those who do not. This news caused my hands to start shaking uncontrollably for like four hours, except that I don't know if that was the study or the caffeine, because on any given morning I put down enough coffee to kill anyone over the age of 55; enough coffee to, if distilled properly, power an oscillating fan; enough coffee that I'm pretty much just chewing on beans like they were tobacco these days, because that's about the only way I can still catch a buzz (Note: I am kidding about this. Chewing on beans would make your teeth the color and consistency of a saloon barrel, not that I've tried or anything).

So after reading this story, something occurred to me, something that probably occurred to many of you out there reading as well: "My God, if coffee can make you live longer, there is a reasonable chance that I am immortal." Well, let me just take a moment to advise you about thinking things like that: Keep doing it, because it's probably true. And it's fantastic news, I guess, but I think when you become immortal you have to become a superhero or something, and do that thing about using your powers for good, never evil, blah blah boring boring blah. So, whatever, yeah, some of us may be coffee immortals now, but that still doesn't mean you're gonna be able to use all your season tickets.

Anyway, the study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, a title that it's very difficult to not make a childish joke about, involved two large studies that followed professionals for over two decades. And it found that people who drank at least five to seven cups of coffee a week -- around here we call that "the crossword puzzle," but whatever -- had a significantly lower risk of dying from anything compared to those freaks who didn't drink any at all. Those who drink four to five cups a day had even better protection, although it's difficult to congratulate them on it, because they're in the bathroom all the time.

The study goes on to say that people who drank decaf -- or, as we call it around here, "Why?" -- enjoyed as much benefit as those who drank, you know, actual coffee, meaning that there's something in there besides that delicious, life-giving caffeine that seems to be at work here. Meaning that there be some small manner of magical, mysterious chemical in coffee that makes it even more valuable than something that is merely required to start your heart every morning.

Jeff Vrabel is a freelance writer who can't help laughing every time he thinks of the conference room full of pig-bellied bald men who named a car a Nissan Armada. Ooooooooooh. He can be reached at