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Caffeine Is Definitely Good/Bad for You

The latest study about the effects of caffeine found that, during stressful situations, it impaired memory performance in men but actually improved memory performance in women.

Odd, right?

Those results prompted me to review the last few years of studies on caffeine to see if I could make sense of the research on the world’s most popular psychoactive substance. Here is what I have learned:

According to one study, caffeine is associated with interrupted sleep and higher rates of daytime sleepiness, even at relatively low doses. That’s not good.

On the upside, though, caffeine can help relieve headaches.

That said, the same study found that regular use of caffeine can lead to chronic headaches. And if you stop drinking coffee after being a regular drinker you’ll have withdrawal symptoms, which can include headaches.

Caffeine “significantly” increases the upper body strength of women. Which is kind of amazing.

However, postmenopausal women who drink five or more cups of coffee a day may be at increased risk of ovarian cancer. (Though the researchers speculate it may be a component of coffee other than caffeine that’s responsible.)

Men should worry, too, because a Danish study of young men found that caffeinated soda consumption was associated with low sperm counts.

If you’re a senior citizen, though, maybe you should have a nice cup of strong black tea. A study of 70-year-olds found “significant positive associations between total caffeine intake and general cognitive ability and memory.” Also, in tests on mice, caffeine was found to help protect against Alzheimer’s disease.

But another study suggests that caffeine consumption inhibits long-term memory.

So forget memory. Does caffeine make you run faster? Yes it does! If you’re a sprinter, anyway. Actually, it may help distance runners, too.

But it’s not so great for children and teenagers. In the excellently titled study “Mountain Dew or Mountain Don’t?” researchers found that caffeine use among fifth and tenth graders was related to increased levels of depression.

A study of adults, though, found that caffeine use may reduce depression.

Also, caffeine helps your liver!

But hurts your bones!

It might help you lose weight!

But you might suffer panic attacks!

Aaah!

I can’t figure it out. Though maybe I should have a cup of coffee because it’s been shown that caffeine enhances cognition. Except when it doesn’t.

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