Caffeine Myths and Facts

caffeine-myths-facts

Is Caffeine Healthy or Not?

Caffeine is a naturally occurring substance that has been enjoyed by people for thousands of years.

It is generally regarded as the most widely consumed food/drug in the world. Caffeine enhances certain aspects of both physical and mental performance, as well as alertness.

People who use caffeine regularly and responsibly to make the most of their day, often face conflicting and confusing statements regarding the effects of caffeine on a person’s health.

Luckily, caffeine is one of the most comprehensively studied substances with centuries of safe consumption when taken in moderate doses.

As a result, there is a vast amount of scientific data that can provide answers to the many questions that exist surrounding the use of caffeine.

Myth: Caffeine is not safe.

The Facts

Because caffeine is so widely used, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) carefully reviewed and deemed it as safe and effective. In 1958, caffeine was placed on the Food and Drug Administration’s list as generally recognized as safe (GRAS).

A comprehensive review of caffeine safety was recently published and concluded that moderate daily caffeine intake at doses up to 400 mg per/day was not associated with adverse effects such as general toxicity, cardiovascular effects, effects on bone status and calcium balance (with consumption of adequate calcium), changes in adult behavior, increased incidence of cancer and effects on male fertility. Src.

Another article that reviewed the effects of caffeine on human behavior also concluded that caffeine is unlikely to cause adverse events when taken in moderation. Src.

People with pre-existing health problems may want to consult their physician regarding their use of caffeine.

Experts agree that moderation and common sense are the keys to safe consumption of caffeine.

What is considered a “normal” amount of caffeine depends on an individual’s sensitivity and can be affected by frequency and amount of intake, body weight, age, and a person’s overall health.

Myth Busted? Yes, the research would tell us that caffeine is safe in moderation.

is caffeine addictive

Myth: Caffeine is an addictive drug.

The Facts:

Caffeine is a pharmacologically active substance; it can work as a mild stimulant, and therefore is considered a drug. Few caffeine users report loss of control of caffeine intake or significant difficulty in reducing or stopping caffeine if desired. Thus, caffeine is mildly addictive, but it is not on the same level as other addictive stimulants.

The National Institute of Drug Abuse doesn’t include caffeine on its Commonly Abused Drugs List.

However, people can have some dependency and level of addiction to caffeine. Many feel they need it to function normally and can have withdrawal symptoms if they miss their daily dose. We put together a useful Caffeine Addiction Diagnosis Tool to help determine a person’s level of dependency.

It is also important to note that caffeine overdose and withdrawal is now included in the latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

Myth Busted? This myth would be partially true. Caffeine has some addictive properties, but not all that would allow it to fully be considered a dangerous addictive substance.

caffeine-heart

Myth: Caffeine causes heart problems

The Facts:

A comprehensive review of caffeine safety was recently done and published, which concluded that moderate daily caffeine intake at a dose level up to 400 mg per/day was not associated with cardiovascular effects. Src.

Furthermore, the Framingham Heart Study examined potential links between caffeine intake and cardiovascular disease. This study showed that there is no significant relationship between caffeine consumption and development of stroke or cardiovascular disease. Thus, it was concluded that moderate caffeine consumption is not a factor in the development of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.

A Harvard University study confirmed this report, concluding that caffeine intake does not “appreciably increase the risk of coronary heart disease or stroke.” In fact, the Framingham study also concluded that caffeinated coffee drinkers had a 43% less risk of cardiac death. Src.

However, caffeine can be dangerous for those with underlying heart conditions. This is especially dangerous for minors because they may not yet have been diagnosed. The severe reactions to caffeine and even deaths are usually attributed to those with underlying heart problems.

Myth Busted? Yes, There is yet no evidence linking caffeine to causing heart disease or heart disorders.

caffeine-cancer

Myth: Caffeine Causes Cancer

The Facts:

Many studies have looked at the relationship between caffeine intake and increased risk of certain cancers, but no associations have been discovered or supported by this research. Src.

Other studies have shown that caffeine when consumed via caffeinated coffee even has a cancer preventative effect. This probably is the result of the antioxidants contained in the coffee beans, but the same correlations were not observed among decaffeinated coffee drinkers.

Myth Busted? Yes, there is no research that supports this belief.

All in Moderation

Based on what science in currently telling us, caffeine consumed in moderation (<400mg/day) will most likely produce no ill effects in healthy adults.

However, excessive caffeine consumption can lead to adrenal fatigue and severe withdrawal symptoms, so some caution should be taken if daily amounts are becoming excessive. Overdose symptoms range from mild to dangerous, and caffeine is lethal at a high enough dosage.

Much of the research surrounding caffeine has been performed on adults or lab rats, so the risk to children isn’t fully understood.

It isn’t clear how caffeine can potentially affect an individual while they are still growing. This is important since highly caffeinated energy drinks are often consumed by this age group.

Recently the American Medical Association endorsed a ban that would restrict the advertisement of energy drinks to minors.

Get Help Quitting Caffeine

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  • mikethenurse

    I can assure you that caffeine is addictive. Failure to obtain caffeine after regular use causes standard withdrawal symptoms (increased blood pressure, heart rate, and agitation), along with headache and lack of motivation. Just because the FDA classifies something as GRAS does not make it addictive, it just means it probably won’t kill you, so long as you use it right. I should point out that the FDA is not the most unbiased source of such data, since they rely on information provided by the drug companies. I need only point as far as the recent Celebrex and Vioxx fiasco to cast doubt on the quality, impartiality, and completeness of that information.
    ~MtN

  • AwW

    The following, and much more, can be found under http://science.howstuffworks.com/caffeine1.htm, a very objective site with nothing to gain or lose from the marketing of caffeine…

    “Caffeine is an addictive drug. Among its many actions, it operates using the same mechanisms that amphetamines, cocaine, and heroin use to stimulate the brain. On a spectrum, caffeine’s effects are more mild than amphetamines, cocaine and heroin, but it is manipulating the same channels, and that is one of the things that gives caffeine its addictive qualities.”

  • Not addictive?
    I drank a lot of coffee for over a year.
    When I had a day without coffee I’d experience a severe headache.
    I slowly switched to green tea, reducing the amount I drink and now I actually can live a day without caffeine

  • dianecera

    One thing I experienced with coffee drinking is the effect on those annoying painful benign breast lumps. When I cut back to 2 cups a day the painful flare ups went away, when I cut back to one big cup a week, my Sunday morning treat, They almost completely disappeared. And its been 2 years so its not a coincidence.

  • Jeff

    I would argue that caffeine is not technically addictive. Whereas caffeine does cause some withdrawal pain when someone stops using it, the individual IS able to stop. Unlike cigarettes, where the individual has extreme difficult quitting (some people will go to great lengths to get cigarettes), caffeine users are able to quit using it easily, provided they can deal with the pain.

  • ad

    I don’t know what “pain” are you talking about. I can safely go for days without coffee or energy drinks, and I have no headaches or any other addiction symptoms, I’m just not as alert.

  • ebeth

    People who say caffeine is not addictive are selling something. Sure, politicians and salespeople will manipulate the definition of “addiction” to suit their needs, but people who have had a tough time quitting know the truth. I have had a harder time quitting caffeine than my mother had quitting her 40 year smoking habit! At least smokers have “the patch” or other pills to help them. As far as I know, I will continue throwing money away to feed my Diet Coke addiction. I am sure they will have to pull it out of my cold dead hands in the end. Thank you coca-cola.

  • HOBOBOB1022

    Ebeth, I don’t know how many cokes u have a day, but i’d start by cutting that number down by one for a few days,(until you feel fine wit it) and then down by one again after that, etc. and replace those cokes with water. Thats how I stopped drinking soda…and then i found energy drinks… but im not really addicted to them yet ( or if ur so deep into it, caffeine pills, and slowly cutting the amount of them [actually cutting the pill], but i doubt thats what u need if its coke ur drinking)

  • Mar

    Yeah… I agree… addictive in a rather mediocre way. You can stop having it even after large levels, but you crave it for a few days after, have headaches, and are generally rather slothlike while getting off of it.

    BUT it really doesn’t fight you too hard either. It’s just kinda uncomfortable. Just stop a weekend that you’re not expecting to be doing much, since it’s difficult to stop and take “down” days if you’re really needed to be alert at work.

  • Dan

    Actually, studies have shown that caffeine is more physically addictive than marijuana (and by quite a bit).

  • Stephen

    It also causes headaches and a general unwell feeling if regular intake is stopped….meaning if you drink 3 cups of coffee a day and out of no where just stop cold turkey you get sick….that qualifies addiction in my book…

  • kaysee

    marijuana isn’t physically addicting. my suggestion to you is do some research before you try and prove a well written article wrong.

  • Nevin Fernyhough

    Marijuana isn’t physically additive whatsoever dumbass…

  • Mikaela

    all of you are wrong. pot, in in itself is not addictive. however, Tetra- Hydra- Chloride, the crystalized drug on weed, is. withdrawl symptoms include headaches, frustration, short temper, sensetivity to light and loud noises, exostion, and extreme fatigue. mind you, the time period for these effects are all dependent on your personal motabalism and body wight. as THC is stored in your body fat.

  • Mikaela

    P.S. Please forgive the misspellings.

  • CoyoteBlue

    Funny that these ‘facts’ that are all in a good light and ‘myths’ which happent to all be bad are published by a maker of caffeine products.

  • Summer

    After reading this article, I still don’t believe it. I drink “cokes” or sodas if you wish every day, and glasses of them, specifically the diet kind. I quit drinking them for a week or two one time. (I was trying to think of of my health.) However, the withdrawal effects made me feel blah. I was really really tired, had a loss of concentration, some headaches, and constant thoughts about wanting another one. But..it’s tough for me..I feel stupid, but I’ve just been drinking them my whole life. I’m gonna quit though..I mean it’s just in my best interest..but I’ve recently made a slight improvement..now I’m stuck on drinking bottles of Propel water!!

  • Nemo

    “Few caffeine users report loss of control of caffeine intake or significant difficulty in reducing or stopping caffeine if desired. Thus, caffeine is not addictive and is not listed in the category of addicting stimulants.” Caffeine isn’t addictive like pot and alcohol aren’t addictive. Unlike heroine they do not create a physical dependence. But like many substance, plenty of people become addicted. In fact caffeine causes withdrawal symptoms for many people who try to quit after consuming large amounts of it for long times. Your right to suggest that it is less addictive than many things, or to say that caffeine addiction rarely causes serious problems, but to say it is flat out not addictive is a lie.
    Marsh, ME. (2001). Caffeine as an addiction. Psychology and Education: An Interdisciplinary Journal,

  • Kat

    i’m currently writing a repot on the effects of caffeine and it isn’t actually addictive. it causes the body to become dependent rather than addicted. dependence is similar to addiction but the effects aren’t as severe. please check this website if you are interested in knowing more

    http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/bb/neuro/neuro99/web3/Howard.html

  • Kat

    oops i mean report. sorry

Last Modified: December 16, 2016