Some may object, arguing that caffeine is not a
drug. However, medical professionals agree that the term “drug�? can accurately
be defined as any chemical substance that is capable of altering mood,
perception, or thought. Despite its popularity, many health professionals have,
in the past, and continue to, raise questions as to whether caffeine is helpful
or harmful. Therefore, what are the risks versus the benefits for those who
consume foods containing caffeine?
Studies have proven that caffeine has positive effects on the respiratory
system. According to the magazine, Marie Claire, caffeine has been shown
to help reduce asthma symptoms, “because caffeine is a chemical cousin of the
prescription asthma drug theophylline, which widens the airways leading to the
lungs�? (March 03 p. 261).
Caffeine can also have a very positive effect on
the blood vessels of the brain, which, when swollen, can cause painful
throbbing. Because caffeine works to constrict these blood vessels, it can
reduce or even remove the pain caused by headaches.
“Drinking coffee and other caffeinated beverages
might be linked to a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, according to findings in
Ann Intern Med (2004; 140: 1-8)�? (p.137), stated the January 10 edition of the
Lancet. A study of 126,000 men and women was conducted, and results showed that
those who consumed little or no caffeine were, says the Lancet, “more likely to
develop type 2 diabetes than those who consumed more caffeinated drinks.�?
Another advantage of caffeine is its apparent
ability to prevent or stop the spreading of skin cancer. Researchers in the
United States achieved these results by testing mice with skin tumors. After
caffeine was rubbed on the skin of these mice, researchers found that caffeine
effectively killed cancer cells without damaging any of the surrounding skin.
The Risks Of Caffeine
It appears as though the risks of caffeine are
somewhat limited. Women are the most at risk because the primary dangers of
caffeine consumption are associated with the conception and development of
Marie Claire magazine writes, “Women who consume 250 mg of caffeine daily
(that's two to three cups of coffee) have been shown to take slightly longer to
conceive,�? and that, “During
consuming the caffeine in five or more cups of coffee a day doubles your risk of
Caffeine also appears to be an addictive
substance. USA Today argues that, “Although psychological dependence on caffeine
has yet to be widely documented, a physical dependence upon the drug is very
evident�? (p. 4). Caffeine dependence can be seen if a person consumes as little
as 100 mg. a day, and then tries to stop taking in caffeine.
USA Today continues by showing that withdrawal
symptoms, “which includes headache, fatigue, inability to concentrate, and even
nausea and vomiting�? (p. 4), can be experienced by those trying to kick the