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Medicine Science

Caffeine Addicts Get No Additional Perk, Only a Return To Baseline 506

Posted by timothy
from the aren't-all-perks-relative? dept.
Dthief writes "Bristol University researchers found that coffee drinkers develop a tolerance to both the anxiety-producing and the stimulating effects of caffeine, meaning that it only brings them back to baseline levels of alertness, not above them. 'Although frequent consumers feel alerted by caffeine, especially by their morning tea, coffee, or other caffeine-containing drink, evidence suggests that this is actually merely the reversal of the fatiguing effects of acute caffeine withdrawal,' wrote the scientists, led by Peter Rogers of Bristol's department of experimental psychology."
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Caffeine Addicts Get No Additional Perk, Only a Return To Baseline

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  • Sure they do... (Score:4, Informative)

    by jbezorg (1263978) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @05:25PM (#32437518)

    There is another stimulating effect of caffeine that the article does not address.

    Caffeine is a diuretic.

  • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@nOSpam.yahoo.com> on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @05:25PM (#32437520) Journal

    I believe it's called 'homeostasis.'

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @05:31PM (#32437614)

    as a caffeine addict in the uk, I can definitely say that we suffer from caffeine withdrawal symptoms here. At least, I do.

  • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @05:35PM (#32437668) Homepage

    Hypertension, Heart Problems.

    No [highwire.org]

    and

    No [nih.gov]

    Hard to prove a negative, but for a drug, caffeine has been remarkably safe.

    (Appropriate Heinlein quote "Man is not a rational animal, he is a rationalizing animal".

  • Re:well GREAT (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @05:41PM (#32437718)

    Adderall is speed (amphetamine/dextroamphetamine), not meth. Meth is sold medically under the brand name Desoxyn but prescription is rare.

  • Re:Makes sense (Score:4, Informative)

    by mattack2 (1165421) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @05:42PM (#32437738)

    I used to drink tons of soda (even more caffeine than coffee)

    [citation needed]

    How much soda were you drinking at one time?

    From http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/caffeine/an01211 [mayoclinic.com]
    generic brewed coffee has (on the low end) 95 mg of caffeine in 8 oz. (200 mg on the high end)
    Mountain dew has 54 mg for 12 oz. (Vault has 71 mg, but Mt. Dew is "well known" as having high caffeine, and besides Vault is the highest in the list shown on that page.)

    So if you drank a lot of soda, over the course of the day you'd likely get more caffeine than one cup of coffee a day.. But IMHO, do typical coffee drinkers drink only one cup a day? I don't think so.

  • by A beautiful mind (821714) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @05:44PM (#32437762)
    This is the reason I highly dislike the mainstream media. I guess it's okay for them to at least try to summarize research, even though they fail horribly most of the time, but for fuck's sake at least provide a link to the original research [nature.com] or at least the press release [bristol.ac.uk] from the university!

    A much better test would be to actually TEST their alertness, instead of relying on a subjective self-assessment.

    They did that. From the press release:

    Approximately half of the participants were non/low caffeine consumers and the other half were medium/high caffeine consumers. All were asked to rate their personal levels of anxiety, alertness and headache before and after being given either the caffeine or the placebo. They were also asked to carry out a series of computer tasks to test for their levels of memory, attentiveness and vigilance.

  • Re:Sure they do... (Score:2, Informative)

    by JaCKeL 1.0 (670980) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @05:46PM (#32437788)
    It is also a powerful laxative !
  • Re:Sustained effect (Score:3, Informative)

    by Chris Burke (6130) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @06:01PM (#32437962) Homepage

    No, because the addicted coffee drinker's tolerance means they don't experience the stimulating effect of caffeine. It's that effect that makes you feel not tired, but addicts don't get that effect. They simply lose the effects of withdrawal.

    Imagine "baseline" as meaning "whatever level a non-drinker would be at that time". For an addict their caffeine fix will bring them up to that level, but no higher. An addict who was tired and experiencing withdrawal would be below a tired non-drinker, and when they drink the coffee they'll lose the withdrawal and just be tired. So it'll feel like an improvement (and surely is) but it won't be an improvement over not being an addict in the first place.

    Frankly this matches my experiences as a caffeine addict. While my morning cup of joe is essential to getting my brain up and running, if I didn't get enough sleep then it doesn't make me not tired. I can drink a double shot of espresso shortly before bed time and not have any trouble falling asleep, and I've tried drinking copious amounts of coffee to help me stay up late and it doesn't work.

    My caffeine addiction really kicked in during my last couple years of college when I was pulling lots of all-nighters for projects. The stimulant effect sure helped then, but I just don't feel the benefit anymore.

  • Re:well GREAT (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @06:36PM (#32438340)
    In common parlance all stimulants that are not cocaine and don't have hallucinogenic effects are referred to as "speed". Examples include amphetamine, dextroamphetamine, methamphetamine, cathinone, methcathinone, methylphenidate, and even modafinil.

    "Meth" is generally reserved for the easily smoked pure crystals of methamphetamine.
  • Re:Makes sense (Score:5, Informative)

    by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @06:45PM (#32438418) Journal

    Not having coffee results in the same amount of wakefulness, only without the money spent on coffee.

    But without the joy of starting the morning with a rich, complex, and delicious brew. When you consider how much flavor you get out of it, a bag of coffee beans is really inexpensive. You could spend $5 on a bar of gourmet chocolate or a bit of fancy cheese and it will be gone in a few days. Spend the same $5 on a half pound of coffee beans and it will last for 2 weeks.

    There's really no downside to being addicted to something that's so cheap and plentiful. It's low in calories, inexpensive, and really fucking delicious. Why quit?

  • by Bobartig (61456) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @06:51PM (#32438466) Homepage

    When I finished finals this semester, I cut caffeine entirely from my diet to try and get back to a normal consumption level. During finals, I was consuming ~500 mg of caffeine in the form of tea, energy drinks, and caffeinated gum, mints, and pills. I tend to follow my caffeine consumption very closely.

    After finals, I also developed a sore throat, so I was drinking over a gallon of liquid a day - LOTS more than normal. About 12 hours after my finals period ended, I got splitting headaches from the caffeine withdrawal, which lasted about a week. I've also gone through this cycle about a dozen times since highschool, and every other time I've cut caffeine from my diet.

    Caffeine consumption causes a vasoconstriction of the blood vessels within the brain, and reduced sensitivity to adenosine. When caffeine consumption stops abruptly, it leads to headache, lethargy, and possibly nausea as a result of increased intercranial pressure and adenosine uptake. The symptoms are easily confused with dehydration, except that drinking lots of fluids not only doesn't help, it can make things worse.

  • by xeoron (639412) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @09:23PM (#32439836) Homepage
    Interesting, especially since that, for me, exercise always wakes me up far more and longer than some stimulating drink. Very helpful when I am overtired for work one morning and I choose to bike to work.
  • Re:Makes sense (Score:3, Informative)

    by pz (113803) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @09:36PM (#32439922) Journal

        I drink two pints first thing in the morning. 32oz * 3.5mg = 112mg. Then about 12oz/hr after that throughout the work day, and back to pint glasses when I get home.

    Stop.

    No, seriously, stop drinking that much Dr. Pepper. Ingesting that many calories from one source is a Really Bad Idea. Even if it's actually their diet version, ingesting that much of any one food source is a Really Bad Idea. It leads to all sorts of health issues, not the least of which will be vitamin deficiency. Seriously, this is a VERY BAD IDEA.

    Taper down, quit cold turkey, whatever, but cut down on your intake and do it soon. If you're ingesting that much sugar, you are on a short bee-line to diabetes, and a long list of Very Bad Diseases to follow. If you're ingesting that much synthetic crap by drinking the diet version instead, the diseases are not as readily identifiable, but I'd put good money down are going to be at least as bad.

    Seriously, stop. Anyone else here on Slashdot that is ingesting that much surgared soda, stop. Now. Diabetes, which is the most likely outcome (if not death from congestive heart failure) is a seriously bad disease, with complications like glaucoma that leads to blindness, chronic foot ulcers, gangrene, foot amputation, kidney failure, etc. Did you see that "blindness" part? Not joking. Preventing it is easy: stop drinking soda.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 03, 2010 @12:13AM (#32440528)

    Caffeine is a diuretic, so you would actually be less likely to be dehydrated.

  • Re:Sure they do... (Score:3, Informative)

    by adolf (21054) <flodadolf@gmail.com> on Thursday June 03, 2010 @03:45AM (#32441810) Journal

    Coffee enema [wikipedia.org].

  • by not flu (1169973) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @06:46AM (#32442556)
    I'm a Finn and I can attest that caffeine withdrawal symptoms are real. Going cold turkey from 2 liters or more of drip coffee per day gives me a fairly severe headache - but I suspect few coffee drinkers actually drink that much most of the time.
  • by theelectron (973857) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @11:47AM (#32445522)
    I'll add some anecdotal evidence: Whenever I quite drinking coffee, I usually double or triple my total intake of fluids by way of tap water. I will always get a splitting headache for an entire day after quitting the caffeine cold turkey (bad Idea I know) The withdrawal effects are very real for me. Also, for what it is worth, I usually drink 6 cups of coffee spaced out over a day

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