Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?
Biotech Science

Why It's So Hard To Predict How Caffeine Will Affect Your Body 212

carmendrahl writes "Emergency-room visits linked to caffeine-laden energy drinks are on the rise. This gives scientists who'd like to see caffeine regulated the jitters. But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration seems to be dragging its feet on regulating caffeine content in food and drink, because people have different sensitivities to it (abstract). Currently, caffeine-rich products like Monster Energy get around the rules because they're marketed as dietary supplements. 'Caffeine gets cleared from the body at different rates because of genetic variations, gender, and even whether a person is a smoker. For this reason, it’s difficult to set a safe limit of daily consumption on the compound. Physiological differences, as well as differences in the way people consume caffeine, have tied FDA in knots as it has debated how to regulate the substance. ... The toxic level in humans, about 10 g, is roughly the equivalent of imbibing 75 cups of brewed coffee (in 8-oz mugs) or 120 cans of Red Bull over a few hours. But that lethal limit can vary widely from person to person, experts say."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Why It's So Hard To Predict How Caffeine Will Affect Your Body

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 04, 2013 @05:46PM (#42789745)

    ...caffeine will someday become a controlled substance after the prohibitionists finish up outlawing tobacco.

  • Um... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Monday February 04, 2013 @05:49PM (#42789795)

    Caffeine gets cleared from the body at different rates because of genetic variations, gender, and even whether a person is a smoker.

    ...Isn't that true for most substances?

  • Mr Anecdotal here (Score:4, Insightful)

    by EmperorOfCanada ( 1332175 ) on Monday February 04, 2013 @05:54PM (#42789873)
    Some caffeine from Green Tea keeps me programming, driving, studying, etc. Red Bull makes me wound up and literally makes my heart skip a beat every now and then. Straight caffeine pills just knock me out and a few hours later make me angry. So needless to say I limit myself to occasional green teas. (Matcha!)

    If my wife has a coffee after 6pm she will have trouble sleeping that night.

    My brothers can't operate with much less than 5+ cups of strong coffee per day.

    So needless to say within my reach are a pretty wide set of reactions to caffeine. The drug I would love to see studied even more is Chocolate.
  • by LordLimecat ( 1103839 ) on Monday February 04, 2013 @06:11PM (#42790127)

    Gut clogging quantities of HFCS most likely.

    Put this stupid myth to rest. There is no known reason for-- nor observed effect-- HFCS to be processed significantly differently in your body than straight up sucrose. In 1 of the 2 most common mixtures, it has 1% more glucose (better for you); in another it has 6% more fructose (a bit worse for you). Either way, its a wash, and chemically it has the exact same stuff that sucrose has, just already partly broken down into its constituent sugars (sucrose = glucose + fructose).

    Its seriously irritating that of all things for people to worry about, they quibble about WHAT KIND of sugar is being imbibed (which has negligible effect) rather than the amount. Its like wondering whether the lake you are drowning in is fresh or brackish, and what health effects that might have on you.

  • by garyebickford ( 222422 ) <> on Monday February 04, 2013 @06:36PM (#42790501)

    Well, technically each of these sugars is metabolized somewhat differently, and uses up different amounts of B vitamins in the enzyme conversion chain. IANA biochemist but it takes, IIRC, two molecules of B-something to assist in the splitting of a sucrose molecule to its constituent frucose and glucose molecules, and so forth. I forget which vitamins are used where. So again, different people will be affected differently depending on your vitamin levels as well as your phenotype.

    Funny how these things go, it wasn't that long ago that you could buy fructose at the health food store, as a 'healthy alternative' to sucrose - coming from fruit and all.

  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Monday February 04, 2013 @06:45PM (#42790627) Homepage

    "The no-cal versions have vast quantities of strange sweeteners."

    Really? My sugar free coffee every morning has none of those. What twisted person would defile the holy coffee by adding anything to it?

  • Re:Just tax it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 04, 2013 @06:51PM (#42790725)

    The nice thing about caffiene, in every way we normally consume it that I'm aware of, is that your body will let you know you've had too much WAY before it gets dangerous. Obviously and quicly. That is, unless there's something very wrong with you to begin with. Otherwise drinking enough Monster or coffee to put yourself in the hospital is almost always a willful act of stupidity.

    As such, I'm not too concerned about the FDA "dragging its feet" on the matter.

  • by NatasRevol ( 731260 ) on Monday February 04, 2013 @06:59PM (#42790839) Journal

    Not a myth. Actual observed effects. []

    In case you don't want to go click it, here's TFS:
    "In an experiment conducted by a Princeton University team, 'Rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained significantly more weight than those with access to table sugar, even when their overall caloric intake was the same.' Long-term consumption also 'led to abnormal increases in body fat, especially in the abdomen, and a rise in circulating blood fats called triglycerides.' Psychology professor Bart Hoebel commented that 'When rats are drinking high-fructose corn syrup at levels well below those in soda pop, they're becoming obese — every single one, across the board. Even when rats are fed a high-fat diet, you don't see this; they don't all gain extra weight.'"

  • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Monday February 04, 2013 @11:17PM (#42793177)

    French press Kona coffee... Nothing. The swill that comes out of the machine at work? Whiskey.

Man will never fly. Space travel is merely a dream. All aspirin is alike.