As with many things we consume such as food, technology and medicine, there is often a slew of new information surfacing every few years that adds to the debate of what’s good for us and what isn’t. The New York Times recently published an article aggregating some recent studies that all point to various benefits of drinking coffee. Good news for highly-caffeinated college students!
Besides the obvious benefits of aiding us in pulling all-nighters and then staying awake the next day through lectures or exams, a study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, for example, showed that coffee-drinking and caffeine can lead to a change in the biochemical environment in our brains. This is a good change, however—it could help hold off or decrease our chances of dementia later in life.
Another huge study that ended last year looked at over 400,000 people ages 50-71 who had no major diseases back in 1995. Over 50,000 of the volunteers had passed away by 2008. Yet the study, conducted mainly by researchers at the National Cancer Institute, found that out of men who drank two to three cups of coffee per day were 10 percent less likely to have died. For women the case was 13 percent less.
“The ‘healthiness’ of consuming coffee seems to be in the same realm as consuming wine—it can have bad effects, but a lot of studies have shown that it can lead to positive effects as well,” said Amanda Domuracki, a junior at Boston University studying film. Domuracki says she doesn’t drink coffee because “it doesn’t taste good,” but says she often wishes she could have the late-night benefits of drinking coffee. “Most other caffeine is off the table because energy drinks are bad in general, but I’m particularly not supposed to have them because I have some heart issues.”
In another study conducted last year, adults with mild cognitive impairment or some more serious forgetfulness (often the beginning signs to Alzheimer’s disease) had their blood levels tested for caffeine. Two to four years later, the same adults were tested once more. Those who had little or no caffeine in their blood were much more likely to have their cognitive impairment progress towards Alzheimer’s than those who had caffeine in their system.
“This is definitely good news for me,” says Dani Stoffregen, a junior at Ithaca College who admits to drinking caffeine regularly. “That research needs to be put in perspective, though, because some people probably have conditions where drinking coffee might do more harm than good,” said Stoffregen, who is majoring in documentary studies. “I’ve definitely had times when I knew I drank too much caffeine for the week…coffees, Red Bull, 5-hour Energy shots, the works. Like most things that are questionably good or bad for you, it’s all about moderation.”
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