Caffeine: Friend or Foe?

Caffeine comes in many different forms, though normally we tend to get our fix through coffee, tea, energy drinks, and more. Millions of people across the world and in various situations depend on caffeine to give them an energy boost or help them get through the day after a sleepless night. Obviously, the widespread consumption of caffeine has brought to light many of its perks while simultaneously exposing the harmful effects of the drug.

It can be argued that the consumption of caffeine can produce a myriad of benefits for most people who ingest caffeine in moderation. Some of those benefits include, but are not limited to: the blockage of an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain (adenosine) and acts as a stimulant, increased metabolism, the lowered risk of diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, etc. However, the presence of caffeine can prove to be a hindrance to one’s own life and the people around them. Starting from the moment of conception and throughout human life, caffeine has proven to have more detrimental effects on the health of the members of our society.

To begin, the effects of caffeine on a fetus can be addressed. In these beginning stages of life, what happens outside of the mother’s womb affects the child just as much as the mother. In regards to the specific topic of caffeine, BMJ, a medical research journal, revealed that there is no safe amount of caffeine consumption for would-be mothers. The way that this conclusion was reached was by analyzing research done by Professor Jack James, of Reykjavik University. What he found after looking at 48 observational studies was that caffeine consumption in pregnant women normally resulted in one or more of six outcomes: miscarriage, stillbirth, low birth weight and/or small for gestational age, preterm birth, childhood acute leukemia, and childhood overweight and obesity. Moving forwards after this information was found, Professor Jack James concluded that pregnant women should be advised to avoid caffeine altogether, rather than decreasing the average intake that they are used to.

During the youth-adult phase in life is when people normally establish a caffeine intake or have at least experienced the short-term and less harmful effects of caffeine. However, although caffeine is a drug, it is one of the most widely consumed substances across the world. According to American University Psychology professor Laura Juliano, “The negative effects of caffeine are often not recognized as such because it is a socially acceptable and widely consumed drug that is well integrated into our customs and routines…” Along with that, she went on to say that while many people are able to ingest caffeine without any complications, caffeine can force our own bodies to deteriorate. This article goes on to mention that Juliano partnered up with Steven Meredith and Roland Griffiths of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and John Hughes from the University of Vermont to create the Journal of Caffeine Research. This journal was published to refute the existing knowledge of the effects of caffeine and to shed light on the issue of Caffeine Use Disorder, which is essentially the extreme version of dependence on caffeine. The conclusion that these researchers came to was that there needed to be more regulation of the amount of caffeine that is allowing into the products that we consume on a regular basis and to go so far as to create a market for caffeine cessation.

Because of the overwhelming amount of evidence that supports the idea that caffeine is not the ideal substance for anyone to be consuming, it is safe to say that overconsumption of caffeine is definitely a hindrance to the normal functions of the body. Through the extensive research that was conducted and resulted in the conclusion that caffeine is especially harmful to anyone, we see that even in the womb, this substance can cause long-term issues throughout someone’s life before they have even been exposed to the world. The effects of caffeine can even be prevalent during the maturation of a human because of the development of caffeine addiction. Along with caffeine addiction, there is the issue of caffeine overconsumption which would increase the adverse effects of the drug. To put it simply, caffeine is more of a foe than a friend.

About Mr. Mohn

Biology Teacher

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