Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Duality of Coffee: Its Health Consequences Explored

My opinion:  I feel extremely urged to touch upon this issue as there have been many recent studies showing that coffee drinking is beneficial for your health.  As a college student, many, many of my peers drink coffee.  I, however, have tried to remain free of it for reasons like those below.  Here's the main idea I get from this - if you choose to drink coffee, don't expect to easily stop - you'll be drinking for quite a while.  And since the long-term effects of drinking coffee may not be entirely known, I felt it would be safer to stay away from it.  But now research indicates that coffee may prevent cancers, heart ailments, and a slew of other diseases.  The catch is that they don't know for sure if coffee is actually the source of these health benefits or not.  

As for me, I'm between a rock and a hard place.  Usually if I need a boost, I'll choose tea instead of coffee - this seems to be a likely safer alternative, even if it is not as strong.  But many others that I know MUST drink coffee just to get by.  In high school, with early classes, I knew of students who would go to Starbucks all the time.  And some people, whether they be busy students or employees, have to work long hours and cannot possibly survive without an extra jolt.  I've even known people who frequently go for three hours or fewer of sleep each night.  So can the benefits of coffee be a sufficient trade off for a lack of sleep?  And are people more tempted to buy coffee if there's a Starbucks on every corner (which is pretty much true at my school)?  Feel free to comment.


Trouble brewing - caffeine addiction can have an impact on your health

Caffeine addiction can have a serious impact on your health. Source: Supplied
KIM Leadley didn't think much of her one or two-a-day big coffee fix. But when she tried to go cold turkey to stop the habit, she found herself getting headaches - excruciating headaches, the I-can't-work-think-or-function kind of headaches. Within days she had fallen off the wagon and resumed the coffee habit.
"The headaches did make me think there was something to be said for caffeine addiction" and withdrawal, says the 41-year-old. She started tapering off her caffeine consumption by mixing decaffeinated and regular coffee. About six months later, she finally kicked the habit when she fell pregnant.
Caffeine, that seemingly benign drug of choice that keeps so many of us fuelled throughout the day, is now the basis of two official diagnoses in the mental-health bible released last month.
The latest edition of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, more commonly referred to as DSM-5, includes both caffeine intoxication and withdrawal. These conditions are considered mental disorders when they impair a person's ability to function in daily life.
Alan Budney, a member of the DSM-5 Substance-Related Disorders Work Group, says the research in support of caffeine withdrawal as a diagnosis is substantial.
It is a "clinically meaningful" diagnosis that could be useful to psychiatrists and other healthcare workers seeing someone experiencing such symptoms, says Dr Budney, who is a psychiatry professor at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire.
Laura Juliano, a psychology professor at American University in Washington DC, who advised the DSM-5 work group, says: "The symptoms (of caffeine withdrawal) overlap with a lot of other disorders and medical problems.


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