I am writing in response to Mark Goldstein’s column, “Caffeine may be more dangerous than marijuana” (CT, March 2). I have recently done a great deal of research on the health benefits of coffee and caffeine and have found that the benefits far outweigh the negatives that are experienced by simple addiction.
As far as addiction is concerned, the World Health Organization said “there is no evidence whatsoever that caffeine use has even remotely comparable physical and social consequences which are associated with serious drugs of abuse.” That includes marijuana, the drug Goldstein chose to contrast
With any drug or substance that alters a person’s physiology and minor biological functions, there will be opponents who are convinced that nothing healthy could ever come of it.
Within the last ten years, however, there have been a variety of credential medical studies that disprove the many misconceptions that exist in regards to negative health benefits of coffee and caffeine. As America’s No. 1 source of powerful antioxidants, coffee not only wakes you to get you through an early morning commute or mind numbing classes, but it has also been proven to improve memory and alertness, increase an athlete’s physical performance, decrease your risk of disease and boost your mood. Coffee can even prevent cavities and headaches.
A common misconception involving coffee includes ailments and diseases that can be brought on by its consumption. However, within the past 20 years there have been countless medical studies proving that only people sensitive to caffeine or those who over consume caffeine in absurd amounts will experience any harmful effects. There are actually more disease-preventing components that far outweigh whatever issues a minor portion of the coffee-drinking population may encounter.
With more than 125,000 participants, a 20-year-long study conducted by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham & Women’s Hospital have found that individuals who regularly drink coffee have a significantly reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes, compared to the non-coffee drinking participants. The researchers found that for men, those who drank more than six cups of caffeinated coffee per day reduced their risk for Type 2 diabetes by more than 50 percent. Women who drank the same amount reduced their risk by 30 percent.
Another study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association conducted by Hawaiian doctors that lasted for more than 30 years provides more evidence in support of coffee’s ability to prevent disease in humans. Based on data collected at the time of the study’s enrollment, men who consumed 28 ounces of coffee or more per day were five times less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease than non-coffee drinkers.
At each examination, increasing amounts of coffee consumed were associated with a larger decline in Parkinson’s disease incidence; thus, the more coffee the participants drank, the less likely they were to develop the disease. It is believed that caffeine reduces the amount of damaging neurotransmitters produced by the brain, which then lowers the incidence of brain tissue degradation. It has been suggested that caffeine may also interfere with the uptake of other transmitters, allowing the levels of dopamine to increase.