*photos from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/caffeine.html and from WeB MD
1. There are a wide variety of sources and forms of caffeine. They are commonly available at different stores and numerous people use it every day. Caffeine is one of the most regularly consumed drugs that are available to not only those of age but to adolescents as well. Caffeine is available in many forms such as coffee, tea, soft drinks, and of course in a majority of energy drinks (Lodato, Francesca). According to “Caffeine Intake Reduces Sleep Duration in Adolescents,” approximately 80% of the world’s population consumes a caffeinated product every day with coffee at 71%, soft drinks at 16%, and tea at 12%. The availability of caffeine is overwhelming and it can be found in many different forms.
2. Caffeine, like other drugs, was found all over the world. European explorers had made use of caffeine after discovering the drug. According to “Caffeine – Early History,” The Europeans not only adopted nicotine and caffeine but began to spread them everywhere. European explorers found caffeine in a variety of forms such as coffee, kola nuts (introduced into cola drinks), and in teas. The magazine article then goes on to say, “In Europe, coffee became a popular drink despite (or perhaps because of) efforts at repression and medical warnings.” Just like any other drug, caffeine, when first exposed and imported into countries, created a sense of moral outrage within the countries that had no previous experience with the drug. Edward M. Brecher, the author of “Caffeine – Early History,” points out an example of the outrage:
“The Mohammedans of Arabia, for example, first used the newly introduced coffee to help them stay awake during prolonged religious vigils. This use as a devotional antisoporific stirred up fierce opposition on the part of the strictly orthodox and conservative section of the priests. Coffee by them was held to be an intoxicating beverage, and therefore prohibited by the Koran, and severe penalties were threatened to those addicted to its use.”
According to “Caffeine Intake Reduces Sleep Duration in Adolescents,” approximately 80% of the world’s population consumes a product that contains caffeine every day.
3. Although caffeine may not be a drug that many people think can be misused, it does have health effects. According to Angela Attwood in the article, “Effects of Caffeine on Alcohol-related Charges,” caffeine is seen as a means to “sober-up” when a person is intoxicated. This is pointed out to be a very “dangerous misconception,” as caffeine has been said to decrease intoxication with little or no change to the impairing effects of alcohol. The amount of effect caffeine will have on a person depends from person to person. It depends on the person’s weight and their sensitivity to caffeine. Therefore, we cannot say what certain amount is too much caffeine because it varies. Many people use caffeine to give them extra energy which is seen as a misuse of the drug. According to “Caffeine Expectancy,” there is evidence that some individuals continue to use caffeine even if they experience symptoms of a substance dependence problem. The article also points out that:
“there are a number of documented cases of caffeine abuse and intentional or unintentional fatal overdose. Despite the widespread use of caffeine among individuals of all ages, its well-documented pharmacological effects, and its similarities to other recreational drugs, relatively little is known about individuals’ beliefs about the effects of caffeine. This represents an important -gap in knowledge about the worlds most widely consumed mood altering drug”
Many do not view caffeine as a drug today because it is so often used by people around the world. As the article says, there is a gap in knowledge about the worlds most used drug.
4. There are a lot of effects that come with consuming caffeine. The most common route of administration can be through consuming caffeine. Many do not pay close attention, but caffeine is in many of the beverages we consume today. It is in coffee, tea, and many soft drinks. Many times we do not think of caffeine as a drug and therefore we do not think about how much caffeine from beverages we consume. Most people think of it as something positive, being able to stay up and have more energy. Unfortunately, there are many consequences that can occur after the consumption of caffeine. Caffeine has a few physiological effects. It can cause diarrhea, dizziness, a fast heartbeat, hyperglycemia, nausea, severe jitters, vomiting, and much more. Along with physiological effects there are also psychological effects as well. Caffeine can cause nervousness, trouble sleeping, and a difficult time thinking.
5. There are many causes for concern involving the use of caffeine. Acute caffeine toxicity can result in many different symptoms. It includes dizziness, headaches, chest pain, and diarrhea. Chronic caffeine toxicity is similar to acute toxicity. The symptoms are very similar but perhaps have more of an effect on the consumer. Constant consumption of caffeine can result in a tolerance making the user consume more and more. Many adults drink coffee and tea every day and sometimes drink more than the recommended amount of caffeine. Even children drink more soft drinks that have caffeine than is recommended. Many users depend on caffeine to help them stay up and have more energy. This is a negative point to consuming caffeine because users do not realize how much of an effect it has on the body. Many feel as if they need caffeine every day to replace their lost energy which is not recommended. We do not see it as being dependent because it has become normal to have that much intake every day and that viewpoint must change. The social issue of caffeine is that it truly has become a national addiction. According to National Caffeine Awareness Month, “A government study shows that at least 68,240,000 Americans drink three cups of coffee or more every day.” Although many feel as if caffeine is harmless, “Caffeine-induced stress has been shown to produce mood swings and insomnia, increased muscle tension, and impaired digestion and nutrition. In addition, caffeine can restrict blood circulation to the brain, raise blood pressure, and accelerate the heart rate.”
*image from svishtov-info.net
6. Although I have highlighted many reasons as to why caffeine should not be consumed as much, there are some beneficial uses. According to Harvard – School of Public Health, “For the general population, the evidence suggests that coffee drinking doesn’t have any serious detrimental health effects.” There is research going on trying to see if there are any benefits to caffeine. Some have come up with the ideas that it may help prevent certain diseases. Although this would be very beneficial, there is still a lot of research that will need to happen.
7. The overall health impact from caffeine is very important. Although we may think that caffeine has no effect on our health it really does. It may give us more energy and make us feel more awake but it can have very negative symptoms that come along with it. There are some minor symptoms like dizziness and more major symptoms like a possible heart attack. We as a society need to make sure that caffeine is used sparingly and cautiously. Many people use caffeine more than the recommended amount each and every day. There are many possible benefits to caffeine that are currently being researched. But as well as benefits, there are also many health effects that are negative due to caffeine.
8. There are many people in the world who consume caffeine. Mostly everyone does and some are even unaware of the fact. I consume caffeine at least twice a week when I drink tea. Many people around me consume a few cups of coffee and some even consume energy drinks. Caffeine has become an everyday routine for some people with needing to wake up and have more energy.
*image from caffeineandyou.com
9. It would be hard to try to get rid of all caffeine as it seems to be a staple in our everyday lives. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, “States and communities have developed educational strategies to alert consumers to the risks of mixing alcohol with energy drinks. One community has enacted an ordinance requiring retailers to post signs warning of these risks.” The only thing that people can do to lessen caffeine is to only consume the recommended amount which is, according to Michael R. Taylor, “For healthy adults FDA has cited 400 milligrams a day—that’s about four or five cups of coffee—as an amount not generally associated with dangerous, negative effects.” There needs to be more information given out so that people can know the side effects and the dangers of too much caffeine intake. According to Michael R. Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine at FDA, “Our concern is about caffeine appearing in a range of new products, including ones that may be attractive and readily available to children and adolescents, without careful consideration of their cumulative impact.” There are a few regulations that are in the process.
10. I recommend for more information to be given out. There are a lot of people who do not know the side effects and dangers to too much caffeine consumption. Many adolescents are growing up thinking that caffeine can be an everyday choice in their lives. It is not healthy to have too much of anything and caffeine is one. There is caffeine in a lot of products today which are easy to obtain. We need to limit our intake of caffeine and perhaps find a healthier way to gain more energy throughout the day, even if that means snacking on a few healthy snacks every now and then. If we educate ourselves and others about the risks people may take more of a precaution to consuming caffeine in the future.
List of References:
“Ask the Expert: Coffee and Health.” The Nutrition Source. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 July 2014.
Attwood, Angela. “Effects of Caffeine on Alcohol-related Changes in Behavioural Control and Perceived Intoxication in Light Caffeine Consumers.” EBSCO Host. N.p., June 2012. Web. 26 June 2014. <http://web.b.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail?vid=3&sid=a23629c0 e80a48d196837697a34d1c0c%40sessionmgr113&hid=126&bdata=JkF1dGhUeXBlPWl wLHVpZCZzaXRlPWVob3N0LWxpdmUmc2NvcGU9c2l0ZQ%3d%3d#db=a9h&AN 76140932>.
Brecher, Edward M. “Caffeine – Early History.” Caffeine – Early History. N.p., 1972. Web. 26 June 2014. <http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/library/studies/cu/cu21.html>.
“Fact Sheets – Caffeine and Alcohol.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 14 Mar. 2014. Web. 08 July 2014.
“For Consumers.” FDA to Investigate Added Caffeine. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 July 2014.
Lodato, Francesca, Joana Araujo, Carla Lopez, Antonella Agodi, Martina Barchitta, and Elisabete Ramos. “Caffeine Intake Reduces Sleep Duration in Adolescents.” Nutrition Research 33.9 (2013): 726-32. ScienceDirect. Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology. Web. 26 June 2014. <http://web.b.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail?vid=3&sid=4a7cda78-8395-47b0-aebc 9509139be93a%40sessionmgr115&hid=126&bdata=JkF1dGhUeXBlPWlwLHVpZCZz XRlPWVob3N0LWxpdmUmc2NvcGU9c2l0ZQ%3d%3d#db=a9h&AN=90205196>.
“Result Filters.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 03 July 2014.