Caffeine Myths and 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.


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.


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.

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  • Why do I feel like I just read something written by someone who has something to gain from the production and sale of caffeine? I hope people have the brains to research the negative side effects of this DRUG.

  • Ted

    We have many articles that explore and discuss the negative effects of caffeine and no we don’t produce of sell caffeine containing products.

  • John ‘Genryu’

    Grow up and stop pandering to long debunked myths. What is it about you Americans that you feel that anything that people enjoy has to be declared to be dangerous?

  • debunked myths? Stop talking out your ass. Caffeine is a stimulant. Maybe a mild stimulant but none the less a stimulant. It’s a drug and I havre no issues with people using it but be real with what it is. An amphetamine.

  • Dave

    Few users report difficulty stopping? Are you kidding me that is a crock of crap. Heavy coffee drinkers will have a hell of a time giving up their daily caffeine shots. I can tell you from experience. Also, give a non caffeine drinker a double espresso and then try and tell him it’s just a “mild stimulant”.

  • Ted

    I hear you and we have several pages that talk about the difficulty of stopping and the addictive nature of caffeine, but the majority of people consume around 1 or 2 cups of coffee a day. The users that do report difficulty in stopping are the heavy coffee/caffeine consumers.

  • Brendan

    I really hope you are pursuing comedy, because comparing caffeine to amphetamine is laughable. Caffeine is not an amphetamine. Based on their structures, amphetamines encourages release of copious amounts of dopamine, seratonin, and norepeniphrine into the synaptic gap, while caffeine blocks adenosine reception (sleep receptors, hence keeping you more “awake”). They are mildly related in that they both block dopamine re-uptake and that they are drugs (and every drug is addictive). I am not arguing that caffeine isn’t a drug, but comparing caffeine to an amphetamine is not accurate, even if you are pounding excessive amounts of caffeine daily it will not compare to amphetamine use. Take a pharmacology class.

  • Sherry Smith

    I have to agree with Brady DeAngelo’s comparison. caffeine in my opinion is the most addicting substance available. I took oxyconteine (an extremely addictive pain reliever) for over 4 years and just stopped cold turkey with no withdraw symptoms but yet i cant go more then 4 hours without a high dose of caffeine and not experience debilitating withdraws

  • Seth

    Not sure why the negative comments. I’m a working college student and I have a low caffeine intake of about 1-3 sugar free Monster energy drinks a week, never taking more than one a day (160mg of caffeine), and I have never experienced any withdrawals or dependency when I go without it for a few weeks during breaks between semesters or during low-stress weeks. When I take the more caffeinated Rockstar (240mg), I don’t experience any other effect than simply a longer duration of alertness. Just control yourselves, be sensible in how much you are consuming and the drug is just how the article explains: a mild stimulant that is hardly addictive – unless you consume a butt-load (like a double espresso, which is overkill IMO), obviously.

  • Seth

    Sorry, I didn’t type what my mind was thinking. Obviously a double espresso is less caffeine. I meant to say several cups of brewed coffee.

  • Mr Paul

    This is a good article. And I like the last header. All in moderation is all there is to it. Any sensible human being with common sense and a functioning brain knows this.

    Obviously, consuming anything in obsessive amounts will cause health problems. It seems the trend with people who originate the paranoia is that everything that we discover has a set of side effects once viciously overconsumed, we then say we should fear consuming it all together or fear how much we do consume, because we “might” consume enough to “experience the negative side effects”.

    The greatest example of this modern thinking is with alcohol and tobacco.

    One: we’ve created partial-prohibition, and despite shoving half-truths and advice down people’s throat in schools and PSAs, it has done nothing more than create a alcoholic college counter-culture and more alcoholics because people don’t how to either control themselves, or they wait too long and they want to try what they’ve been so strictly barred from until two decades of living.

    Two, we’ve created an anti-tobacco culture where some states actually bar establishments from ALLOWING or CHOOSING whether or not they want to allow smoking in their establishment, and others have cultures that involve people openly slandering smokers in public, or flicking the cigarettes out of their mouths. We’ve slowly been banning tobacco in every public place imaginable, and yes, laws banning in from private consumption are either being drafted and created. All because of a second-hand smoke myth that has not yet been completely proven, and was originally a lost-cause in supreme court due to the cherry-picking and manipulating of facts by anti-tobacco advocates. Lastly, partial-prohibition is also now popping up around the country, ages 19-21, for delayed allowance of tobacco purchase.

    All because of lack of control on people’s part, and paranoia throughout the whole population.

    The problem with all of this, is moderation and common sense is never key. We say to either avoid it all together, or quilting people with huge punishments if they step outside of their boundaries.

    The funny thing is, you look at the oldest human beings to live the earth. They’ll tell you three things they thought kept them alive and kicking their over 100 year old lives: Alcohol (usually wine), tobacco(cigarettes or cigars), and caffeine(tea, coffee, chocolate).


  • blindanddumb

    the line at dunkin doughnuts in the morning def resembles a methadone line.
    i personally dont think its only the caffeine in coffee that is responsible for its effects and addictive qualities. there is something else in their. coffee and tee are not equal even if you adjust dose for caffeine in take.

  • ryan

    How about an article addressing caffeine abuse and the negative side effects associated with caffeine addiction…..headaces, insomnia, ongoing stomach issues, dehydration, etc.
    many caffeine users get so addicted they inly feel “normal” with caffeine in their system. The drug has negative effects that greatly outway the short term benefits. I have been caffeine free for just 2 months and feel terrific conpared to before when I was a caffeine dependent.

  • Ted

    We already have several articles that address those issues and concerns and more. Great job on getting caffeine free!

  • Birch

    Amen! But does “every drug is addictive” include things like anti-biotics?

  • Birch

    I have a similar story. One time I encountered a bear in the woods. I only had an umbrella. The bear began to charge and the only thing I could think to do was hold the umbrella like a rifle, point it at the bear and pull the imaginary trigger. Sure enough, there was a loud boom and the bear dropped dead.

  • bob

    You say drug in a way that leads me to believe that you are against all drugs and that they are all bad. Well, tell that to a cancer/AIDS/ADHD/anxiety/depression/bipolar/schizophrenia sufferer, and that all the life saving medicines they take should be banned, and that they are the scum of the earth because they use drugs such as amphetamines, benzodiazepines, and opiates to manage the symptoms of their afflictions. The word drug is not synonymous with evil, and the law is not the end all be all of how to live your life. Even though caffeine is legal, there are still debates on it’s deserved legal status, and most people in America follow the law and cite it as the universe manifested itself into a human form and wrote it in solid gold. Well, minimum sentencing for possession of crack cocaine is 14 years, and maximum sentencing for possession of regular cocaine is 7 years. The only difference between the two is the application of baking soda, which contrary to popular belief actually dilutes the cocaine and the only useful thing it does (for users anyways) is make it smokable. So even in the best case scenario, you are getting 7 extra years in prison for baking soda. So the same laws that you think define everything good with our society are actually very much so flawed.

  • bob

    EXCUSE ME but I believe that it is a xanthene and not an amphetamine. If you’re going to argue then at least know your stuff beforehand.

  • Birch

    Damn. Sherry didn’t take the bait. She was supposed to say “That’s impossible” so I could say “Exactly.”

  • Birch

    We don’t all think this way. In fact, many of us think all or most things should be legal, leaving the user to weigh the pros and cons of using a substance, as long as they aren’t intrinsically harming others by using it (such as smoking in a workplace).

Last Modified: December 16, 2016