Caffeine: A Poisonous Drug

Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, and McDonald’s all have one thing in common: they are known as some of the power-houses for your everyday morning coffee while on your way to work and/or school. Coffee is all the rage now-a-days, whether you drink it to wake you up, relax you, or just for the sole purpose of feeling some sort of sophistication because you are holding a cup with the famous Starbucks logo on it. And of course, companies have been playing off of this “all-American addiction” per se. More and more companies are starting to offer their own signature coffees or upping their prices on their current coffee (there was a recent article about a Starbucks drink costing 23.60…plus tip!).

Statistics show that over 150 million (about 50% of the U.S. population) drink caffeinated beverages (whether it’s an espresso, cappuccino, latte, iced coffee, etc.). Out of these coffee drinkers, the average consumption is 3.1 cups in just a single day. One cup alone can be anywhere between 90-150 mg of caffeine.

As we all know and agree, caffeine can be quite an addicting substance, whether you like it or not. Americans have become so dependent on caffeine, that late last month a new product by the name of AeroShot was released into the market; this product is used as a type of caffeine-inhaler (no, it’s not a joke). Due to its small, lipstick-sized canister, you can carry it everywhere with you. One little pump and an inhale later, you can get 100 milligrams of caffeine powder into your system whenever you feel like you need it.

Consuming caffeine has become so natural that people think nothing of it. But maybe it’s time that we stopped to think about what we are putting into our bodies. Coffee in particular, due to its high content of caffeine, can have many dangerous effects. Caffeine is a methylxanthin, which is a type of stimulant, which means it affects our central nervous system. This is the main reason people drink coffee, to get a sort of “energy booster.” This boost, however, only lasts a little while and can leave you in a more depleting state than the one you started in. People try to avoid this “crash” by drinking more caffeine, because they feel it gives them a boost again. In reality, the caffeine is just bringing you back to your regular level. This constant cycle is what starts to create an addiction.

As the cycle continues, your body becomes more and more tolerant to the caffeine, requiring more caffeine in order to get a boost. It gets to the point where your body cannot properly function without some sort of caffeine-intake. It works just like a drug. Even drinking as little as one 14-ounce mug per day can cause your body an addiction and make it go into withdrawal, according to research done by the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

The list of potential dangerous side effects for caffeine is too long for me to go into detail here. Light research on the topic through any search engine can provide more in-depth information if that’s what you are after. I will, however, give you a small list of problems that caffeine can cause.

Caffeine has mutagenic properties, thus it can increase the risk of birth defects and the risk of cancer (specifically bladder, breast, and pancreatic cancer). Caffeine can increase aggression and mood swings in both animals and human beings. Drinking caffeine can have a negative impact on the learning of any student by decreasing their concentration and making them jittery. Too much caffeine can also increase your chances of RLS (Restless Leg Syndrome), it can muscle pain and soreness (especially in the back and stomach), irregular heartbeat, and anxiety and panic attacks. Too much caffeine intake can even have harmful neurological effects, among many other things.

I am not fully anti-caffeine nor am I trying to advocate a completely caffeine-free diet since I am guilty of having a cup of tea now or then. Nonetheless, try giving it a second thought next time you reach for your coffee mug in the morning. I assure you, a good healthy breakfast (or snack) will give you a whole lot more than just a cup of coffee.

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