These are the thoughts of a cantankerous ol' gynecologist who remembers when things were a little different. I try to find a little humor in my life and the people I meet along the way. Come meet the characters in my world.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Caffeine – The good, the bad, the ugly

I have often joked that, if caffeine ever becomes illegal, I will have to join Caffeine Anonymous.  I just can’t start the day without my cup of coffee.  A caffeinated soft drink or two will do in a pinch.  It really does wake me up and help with focus.  But is it healthy?

Health Issues:

Does Caffeine Cause Insomnia?

That depends on how much you consume, and how close to bedtime you consume it.  It takes about 5 hours to get rid of 50% of your caffeine.  So, not drinking caffeine too late in the day or not drinking pots of coffee will help you sleep.

What about bones, heart and cancer?

Lots of studies have been done about caffeine and its health effects.  There does seem to be some increase in calcium loss in women who drink a large amount of coffee (7 or 8 cups or more a day).  This may be increased if you are older.  Now, insurance companies have tried to convince me that my patients are “elderly” when they are over 60, but I’m NOT buying it.

Caffeine may increase blood pressure and heart rate in some people who are sensitive.  So you should discuss caffeine with your doctor if you have high blood pressure.  Various studies related to cancer have shown little to no risk of any kind of cancer in coffee drinkers. 

What about pregnant women?

Studies have shown that large quantities of caffeine may increase your risk of miscarriage.  Please discuss this with your physician if you are pregnant or plan on becoming pregnant. As a guideline, try to limit to one to two cups of coffee per day.  Remember that caffeine does cross the placenta and crosses into breast milk.

What about kids?

Kids seem to be able to process caffeine the same as adults.  Some are more sensitive than others.  They may be irritable, excitable, anxious, or sleep less.  Limiting their caffeine seems like a good idea.  Do we really need them to be irritable etc???

How Much Caffeine is there in your favorite Beverage?

·         Brewed Coffee – 90-200 mg per 8 oz

·         Brewed Decaff Coffee – 2-12 mg per 8 oz

·         Espresso – 100 mg per 2 oz

·         Instant Coffee – 30-170 mg per 8 oz

·         Brewed Tea – 40-120 mg per 8 oz

·         Energy drinks – 75-280 mg per 8 oz

·         Cola Drinks – 35-54 mg per 12 oz

·         Chocolate -  5.5-35.5 per 1.7 oz

What happens when you quit?

If you go cold turkey (shudder), it depends on how big your “habit” is.  If you drink a significant amount, you may very well have

·         Headaches

·         Fatigue

·         Anxiety

·         Irritability

·         Difficulty concentrating

·         Depression

·         Flu-like symptoms

Been there, done that.  Best way to “quit” caffeine is to wean down.  Second best way is to go away by yourself for about a week.  You should be human by the end of the week. 

Source for caffeine values:

Personal Note:  I need to tell you that Tall Guy made me coffee yesterday morning without being asked.  He even remembered my favorite way to have it – sweetener and some raspberry flavor.  What a lovely way to spend a Saturday morning.  I love my kids. 

No comments: