Is caffeine really a problem?
Is Caffeine Really A Problem?
Everyday numerous people run in and out of convenient stores, to and from
vending machines, and all around cafeterias grabbing drinks to go. How often do those
people count how often they grab something caffinated? Do they realize how much
caffeine they consume? Or do they ever question how it may affect their health? These
are just a few of the questions that led to research that follows. Throughout this process
illustrations of the affects of caffeine will be shown as well as where caffeine is found.
Technically, a drug is a chemical substance used to prevent or cure disease or to
enhance a person’s physical or mental welfare. In fact, people use caffeine for all of
these purposes and caffeine can do all of these things, but usually in a very limited way.
Caffeine is the most popular drug in the world. Though caffeine is a chemical used for
both medical and non-medical reasons, most often it is non-medically fore its stimulating
affect on mood and behavior. Drugs that are taken to alter mood or change behavior are
known as “psychoactive drugs.” Heroin, cocaine, marijuana, nicotine, alcohol, and
caffeine are all psychoactive drugs. Pure caffeine is a bitter-tasting, white powder that
resembles cornstarch. It is moderately soluble in water at body temperature and is easily
soluble in boiling water. “It was first isolated from coffee in 1820 and from tea in 1827
and given the name “theine.” Soon after that, it was recognized that mood-altering and
behavior-altering properties of both coffee and tea came from caffeine. After coffee and
tea the next most important source is soft drinks, and the next cocoa and chocolate.”
(Monroe,98) The final important source is in prescription and over the counter drugs.
People who regularly consume large amounts of coffee (more than 5cups per day) often
find their system has adapted to this amount so that their tolerance to the substance
increases; the results is that they must increase their intake to have any stimulating affect.
Also if such people go without coffee for some time-as little as a few hours in some cases
they may suffer from withdrawl symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, and irritability due
to their physical and psychological dependence on the drug.
When looking to see if this is really a problem to gather a random sample of data,
100 people that are either employees or customers at a local St. Louis car dealership filled
out surveys about their caffeine intake. Also to illustrate different affects on people who
do intake a lot of caffeine compared to those who do not, two females and two males
where interviewed. This next chart also describes where a majority of caffeine in daily
products is found. It is the overuse of many of these products that can lead to a problem.
Caffeine Count Coffee is far from the only caffeine-containingproduct on the market. Check out the chart to see whatelse you eat and drink that contains the chemical.
Beverages Serving size CaffeineCoffeedrip 5 fluid oz. 110-150 mgpercolated 5 fluid oz. 64-124 mgdecaffeinated 5 fluid oz. 2-5 mginstant, with caffeine 5 fluid oz. 40-108 mginstant, decaffeinated 5 fluid oz. 2 mgTeahot, 3-minute steep 6 fluid oz. 36 mgiced 8 fluid oz. 31 mgColasCoca-Cola 12-oz. can 46 mgPepsi Cola 12-oz. can 36-38 mgMountain Dew 12-oz. can 54 mgHot cocoa 6 fluid oz. 4 mgFoodsmilk chocolate 1 oz. 1-15 mgunsweetened baking chocolate 1 oz. 25 mgDrugs (standard dose)Anacin 64 mgExcedrin 130 mgMidol 60 mgNo-Doz 200 mg
“Caffeine’s addictions are not life threatening, but they could become a problem,”
according to Neal Barnard, M.D., president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible
Medicine. (Hunt,99) Caffeine affects the central nervous system by stimulating with the
brain, increasing heart rate and relaxing the muscles of the kidneys and digestive system.
Heavy consumption is linked to infertility, miscarriage, birth defects, and a decrease in
the absorption of vital calcium and iron. Dependency can lead to insomnia, exacerbated
PMS symptoms, and emotional irritability. (Hunt, 99)
When researching, surveys, personal interviews and secondary research were all
used. Secondary research was necessary so that a background could be established and
the primary surveys and interviews to reiterate the findings of the secondary research.
This seemed to be the best way to show the affects of caffeine and illustrate the average
number of people that do consume enough caffeine to be addicted is high.
All of those surveyed were above the age of 18. 62 were male and 58 were
female. There was no direct connection, or need for, results to whether or not females or
males consumed more caffeine. The majority of people consume at least three beverages
that contain caffeine and do not know if any medications they take contain caffeine.
Caffeine Consumed Per Day
Know Tf They Take Medications With
know if medications contain caffeine
“I have no idea if anything I take on a regular basis contains caffeine,” stated Gary
Eagen, “guess I’ll check the bottles.”(personal interview) After this interview Eagen
checked his bottles and found that one of his medications he uses regularly contains a
huge amount of caffeine. Eagen has high blood pressure and is now wondering if there is
a connection due to his past habits of numerous morning coffees, and regular use of a
pain reliever. (Eagen, personal interview) It was this interview as well as the three others,
Harold Ritchie, Carrie Nichols and Kasey Dillon that helped to inform of the reality due
to caffeine addiction and lack of knowledge about the problems. Eagen and Nichols are
both heavy consumers of caffeine; whereas, Ritchie and Dillon try to stray from caffeine
completely. Nichols had recently learned of the caffeine in her medications that helped
her realize she really had an addiction. “ I went to my doctor about frequent headaches
and that’s when he told me about the caffeine in my medication.” Nichols said. She had
been taking Excedrin when she got headaches, which were the result of her coffee cut
back while dieting. The caffeine in the Excedrin was a large help to her headache,
however the fact that she needed to take pills about the same time everyday is what
scared her to the doctor’s visit. (Nichols, personal interview)
Dillon and Ritchie neither suffered from any withdraw symptoms. “If I ever drink
even a soda I have to be sure its not before I go to bed because I react to the caffeine so
easily,” said Dillon. She rarely drinks any beverages or takes any medications that
contain caffeine unless she really needs to feel the affect. (Dillon, personal interview)
Ritchie, however, has new habits due to realization of his past addiction. “It had gotten to
the point I was drinking a 2-liter bottle of Dr. Pepper and half a pot of coffee just to
function normally for a day,” Ritchie stated when explaining why he watches for caffeine
today. He says he feels better on a daily basis now that he only consumes caffeine
seldomly. “Its not like caffeine is cocaine, it is just a common drug that not many people
realize affects their health. Its okay to have the occasional cup of coffee or soda but too
much is something I would warn anyone to stay away from.” (Ritchie, personal
Oddly enough caffeine addiction can be inherited. Kenneth Kendler, M.D., a
professor of psychiatry at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical College found
that the likelihood of inheriting a taste for caffeine is extremely high for women. “If the
best part of waking up is coffee in your cup, chances are you’re dependent and so is your
family.” (Chatterjee, 99) It’s a very common problem that is linked to numerous health
issues. Although the case is rare that someone passes on a taste for caffeine the way a
cocaine addict gives birth to a baby going through withdrawls, it is something that
happens. It may not be severe but it is something that not many people are informed
about and need to be. A public relations campaign about this may not be huge, but it
would have a purpose. Even if it led to just a common pamphlet that is picked up
occasionally at a doctor’s office it is important.
Personally the results of the survey were surprising to me. I knew that drinking
coffee and sodas were common, but not as common as five or more cups per day! The
results of the survey as well as the interviews helped to me realize there was an issue. I
was not sure if this was actually a topic I was looking at to do farther research but it
intrigued me. I am currently working at a car dealership and noticed how many people
regularly drank coffee. It was then that I decided to do a survey and see if it was worth
perusing. I put out 100 surveys plus a few more just in case there were some those could
not be used and found the results worth looking into.
Now I see the benefits of providing information to people about caffeine addiction
to keep them from future health problems. It was not until researching through articles
that I found how much caffeine is in medications. This too surprised me and made me
wonder about my own intake of caffeine. I would enjoy creating a couple pieces that
would inform someone about caffeine. There is not much that I see myself doing with it
Basically, caffeine is a drug. “Caffeine, whether consumed in coffee, soft drinks,
or in any other form, affects everyone differently. People sometimes become addicted
which creates both dependence and tolerance.”(Monero, 98) Many people do not realize
the affects it can have and how much they really consume. By informing people of the
problems with caffeine they can limit their intake and avoid future problems. There are
probably many different topics that have a much larger use or meaning, but this is still
one that I think deserves some attention.
I am sure that on a different level than just one person doing quick research
during the summer would lead to a better outcome. A larger study may lead to different
conclusions or ideas. It may even lean towards more medical uses than anything else.
Just from outside observation, caffeine addiction could be correlated with smoking or
formation of habits. For this class and this research project, this research has used the
basic idea of random sampling and personal interviews to help illustrate the results from
secondary research to lead to the need for an informational campaign to the public.
Chatterjee, Camille (1999). Java Genes. Psychology Today, Vol. 32, issue 4.
June 13, 2003 from Academic Search Elite database.
Hunt, Paula (1999). Quit!. Vegetarian Times, January 99, issue 257, pp18-21
June 13, 2003 from EBSCOhost database.
Linder, Lawerence (1993). The Coffee/Health Connection: filtering fact from fiction.
Arthritis Today, vol.7, pp53-57
. Retrieved June 10, 2003 from Academic Search
Monroe, Judy (1998). Caffeine’s Hook. Current Health 2, vol.24, issue 5
. Retrieved June
10, 2003 from Academic Search Elite database.
Dillon, Kasey. Graduate student, age 22. Date of interview: June 11, 2003.
Eagen, Gary. Athletic Director, age 42. Date of interview: June 14, 2003.
Nichols, Carrie. Cheerleading Coach, age 28. Date of interview: June 11, 2003.
Ritchie, Harold. Teacher/Wrestling Coach, age 47. Date of interview: June 11, 2003.
If possible it would help out an employee with a college course if you could fill out the
following information anonymously and return it to the tray on the counter.
Sex: Male Female
Number of beverages per day you consume that contain caffine:
None 1-3 3-5 5 or more
If you take any prescription or over the counter medications do you know if they contain
On a regular basis do you consume caffeinated beverages? If so, how often and what?
Do you feel you are in any way affected by caffeine? Why or why not?
Do you feel that your caffeine consumption or lack thereof affects your overall health?
Ryan T. Williams Education Ph.D. Candidate, Research Methodology, Loyola University Chicago, Chicago, Illinois (ABD, Expected Completion - 2011) M.A., Research Methodology, Loyola University Chicago, Chicago, Illinois Thesis Title: Measurement Properties of the Study DIAD: An Evaluation Using IRT B.A., Psychology, Sociology, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana Distinctions
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