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Caffeine Myths and Facts

Caffeine is a naturally occurring substance (an alkaloid) found in the leaves, seeds, and fruits of more than 63 plant species worldwide. Products containing caffeine including tea, coffee, and some soft drinks, have been enjoyed all over the world for many years. More recently, drinks with higher levels of caffeine, ("energy drinks") have been developed.


One of the most well-known effects of caffeine is its ability to act as a stimulant to temporarily delay fatigue, an effect that can cause insomnia in susceptible people. Caffeine has also been shown to act as a mild diuretic (causing the body to lose water). Despite extensive studies into its safety, there are still many misconceptions about this common food component.


MYTH: Caffeine causes cancer

FACT: Substantial scientific evidence demonstrates that caffeine does not increase cancer risk. Two studies of large numbers of people in Norway and Hawaii and a review of 13 studies involving more than 20,000 subjects found no relationship between regular coffee or tea consumption and cancer risk.


MYTH: Caffeine is a risk factor for osteoporosis

FACT: Some studies suggest that caffeine intake may increase calcium loss in the urine. However, any loss has been found to be minimal and caffeine intake at normal levels does not appear to affect calcium balance or bone density. More recent studies have confirmed that caffeine intake is not a risk factor for osteoporosis, particularly in women who consume adequate calcium.


MYTH: Caffeine adversely affects the health of children

FACT: Children generally have the same ability to process caffeine as adults. Studies have shown that foods and drinks containing caffeine when taken in moderate amounts have no detectable effects on hyperactivity or attention span of children. However, in sensitive children, high doses of caffeine, may cause temporary effects such as excitability, irritability, or anxiety.


MYTH: There are no positive effects of caffeine

FACT: Caffeine is well recognized as increasing both alertness levels and attention spans. A cup of coffee or tea is often recommended to counter sleepiness, especially for those driving long distances and many people resort to an afternoon "cuppa" to get back on top of their workload. Studies have shown that caffeine may also improve memory and logical reasoning. Many caffeine-containing beverages, most notably tea and more recently coffee and chocolate, have been found to contain antioxidants. Antioxidants appear to have health benefits especially in heart health and cancer prevention.


Resources: Food Facts for Healthy Choices

Date of Input: 11/06/2022 | Updated: 26/07/2022 | aslamiah


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