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Why It's So Hard To Predict How Caffeine Will Affect Your Body

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the mainlining-crushed-penguin-mints-is-not-the-best-plan dept.

Biotech 212

carmendrahl writes "Emergency-room visits linked to caffeine-laden energy drinks are on the rise. This gives scientists who'd like to see caffeine regulated the jitters. But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration seems to be dragging its feet on regulating caffeine content in food and drink, because people have different sensitivities to it (abstract). Currently, caffeine-rich products like Monster Energy get around the rules because they're marketed as dietary supplements. 'Caffeine gets cleared from the body at different rates because of genetic variations, gender, and even whether a person is a smoker. For this reason, it’s difficult to set a safe limit of daily consumption on the compound. Physiological differences, as well as differences in the way people consume caffeine, have tied FDA in knots as it has debated how to regulate the substance. ... The toxic level in humans, about 10 g, is roughly the equivalent of imbibing 75 cups of brewed coffee (in 8-oz mugs) or 120 cans of Red Bull over a few hours. But that lethal limit can vary widely from person to person, experts say."

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Tremors and explosive diarrhea (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42789659)

Also, anxiety and acute sweating.

Re:Tremors and explosive diarrhea (4, Funny)

vlm (69642) | about a year and a half ago | (#42789827)

No no no AC we're talking about caffeine here not taco bell. Get with the program!

Re:Tremors and explosive diarrhea (3, Funny)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790607)

In the future all restaurants are Taco Bell... oh dear god.....

Re:Tremors and explosive diarrhea (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790773)

That put caffeine in all of their 'food'.

Just tax it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42789719)

The same way all vice product consumption is curbed.

Re:Just tax it. (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | about a year and a half ago | (#42789735)

Wow, it's almost as if you didn't even read TFS.

Re:Just tax it. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42789861)

I gave it a skim

Re:Just tax it. (1, Troll)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790331)

In the modern nanny state, isn't taxation the preferred method for shaping societal behavior by our Ruling Class Overlords?

Re:Just tax it. (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790437)

Maybe. I'm not arguing against it, or for it. But how much? The whole point of the TFS is that effects vary so much that we can't tell people how safe it is, how much is too much, etc.

Re:Just tax it. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42790725)

The nice thing about caffiene, in every way we normally consume it that I'm aware of, is that your body will let you know you've had too much WAY before it gets dangerous. Obviously and quicly. That is, unless there's something very wrong with you to begin with. Otherwise drinking enough Monster or coffee to put yourself in the hospital is almost always a willful act of stupidity.

As such, I'm not too concerned about the FDA "dragging its feet" on the matter.

Re:Just tax it. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42790211)

Fuck you and your "vice" taxes, you fucking Puritan.

From reading the article... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42789745)

...caffeine will someday become a controlled substance after the prohibitionists finish up outlawing tobacco.

Re:From reading the article... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42790505)

The way it's going (if "the prohibitionists" get their way at all), what psychoactive (or called such whether it really is or not) substance won't be?

Drag them Feet, Feds (4, Funny)

retroworks (652802) | about a year and a half ago | (#42789755)

Drag away. What they should be measuring is the amount of caffeine that is going into the water table from urine. At that point, it's actually affecting someone else, second hand, and may actually be appropriate to regulate.

Re:Drag them Feet, Feds (1)

DickBreath (207180) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790039)

Look, maybe the FDA just hasn't had enough caffeine yet to feel like trying to regulate caffeine.

Then they would need even more to look into caffeine ending up in the water table. But why regulate that. Just imagine, caffeine on tap from every faucet. Caffeinated showers! It sounds like this should be legislated to be required.

Re:Drag them Feet, Feds (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790163)

So, you're saying is the Feds could use a nice, piping hot cup of Java to get moving?

Re:Drag them Feet, Feds (1)

dbet (1607261) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790889)

That amount would be (effectively) zero.

Re:Drag them Feet, Feds (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42791083)

That's just a load of shit.

Caffeine is a drug.. (4, Interesting)

mrbluze (1034940) | about a year and a half ago | (#42789763)

The part about caffeine that is dangerous is that, like other stimulants, it gives the impression of improved brain performance without really delivering it. A fatigued person propped up with caffeine still makes mistakes related to fatigue. The other effects like jitters and palpitations is probably harmful to the heart in the long term also but it's less of a hazard to others.

Re:Caffeine is a drug.. (4, Interesting)

jittles (1613415) | about a year and a half ago | (#42789855)

It is, yes. But the FDA is definitely right that it affects people differently. I can drink a red bull, a monster, a coke, tea, or anything but coffee and easily take a long nap afterwards. Something about the caffeine I get through coffee is different. It actually makes me feel alert and awake. So is there some other chemical in coffee that increases the effectiveness of caffeine for me, or is the caffeine delivered differently? Does it have a slightly different composition? I don't know. But its a difference I can definitely feel.

Re:Caffeine is a drug.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42789917)

Same for me, its kinda weird. I think its a lack of the other things that you get in energy drinks that does it. Or maybe its that there is more water content per caffeine in sodas and some energy drinks (many say they have as much caffeine as a small cup of premium coffee).

Re:Caffeine is a drug.. (4, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | about a year and a half ago | (#42789959)

Gut clogging quantities of HFCS most likely. Unless you drip a quarter cup of corn syrup into your coffee as a control.
The no-cal versions have vast quantities of strange sweeteners.

If you want a real control, assuming you can still legally buy caffeine pills OTC (or maybe over the net) like Vivaran (sp?) you can simply pop pills equal to however many milligrams you'd like. Drink some water to wash it down and maintain hydration and its almost guaranteed to be healthier for your innards than the additives in either drink.

Its rather telling WRT lethal dosages that they used to sell vivarin caffeine pills in 50 packs (implying you can chug them all and live) but sleep aid pills in 5 packs (implying more than a couple and you're dead). Then again they sell tylenol in 500 capsule buckets at sams club so maybe my theory doesn't apply.

Re:Caffeine is a drug.. (3, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790083)

Whoops I forgot to mention that if a cup of raw corn syrup literally knocks you out despite the caffeine you might want to stop doing that until you mention it to your doctor who will probably order a glucose tolerance test to see if you have some insulin issues. That involves chugging a bottle of corn syrup with blood sugar level testing before and periodically after. Note that only an idiot would get official medical advice from /., but this was an accurate and true anecdotal summary of what my wife had to do (result in her case was nothing wrong with her).

Re:Caffeine is a drug.. (3, Insightful)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790127)

Gut clogging quantities of HFCS most likely.

Put this stupid myth to rest. There is no known reason for-- nor observed effect-- HFCS to be processed significantly differently in your body than straight up sucrose. In 1 of the 2 most common mixtures, it has 1% more glucose (better for you); in another it has 6% more fructose (a bit worse for you). Either way, its a wash, and chemically it has the exact same stuff that sucrose has, just already partly broken down into its constituent sugars (sucrose = glucose + fructose).

Its seriously irritating that of all things for people to worry about, they quibble about WHAT KIND of sugar is being imbibed (which has negligible effect) rather than the amount. Its like wondering whether the lake you are drowning in is fresh or brackish, and what health effects that might have on you.

Re:Caffeine is a drug.. (4, Insightful)

garyebickford (222422) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790501)

Well, technically each of these sugars is metabolized somewhat differently, and uses up different amounts of B vitamins in the enzyme conversion chain. IANA biochemist but it takes, IIRC, two molecules of B-something to assist in the splitting of a sucrose molecule to its constituent frucose and glucose molecules, and so forth. I forget which vitamins are used where. So again, different people will be affected differently depending on your vitamin levels as well as your phenotype.

Funny how these things go, it wasn't that long ago that you could buy fructose at the health food store, as a 'healthy alternative' to sucrose - coming from fruit and all.

Re:Caffeine is a drug.. (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790785)

Once again, the commonly touted sucrose is broken down in your body into what is basically an odd-ratio HFCS mix (Sucrose would become 50-50 glucose-fructose, while HFCS is usually 42-55 or 53-42 plus 3-5% "other sugars")

Re:Caffeine is a drug.. (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790791)

See below for correction, ratio was slightly off, but not by much.

Re:Caffeine is a drug.. (4, Insightful)

NatasRevol (731260) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790839)

Not a myth. Actual observed effects.

http://science.slashdot.org/story/10/03/24/2122231/high-fructose-corn-syrup-causes-bigger-weight-gain-in-rats [slashdot.org]

In case you don't want to go click it, here's TFS:
"In an experiment conducted by a Princeton University team, 'Rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained significantly more weight than those with access to table sugar, even when their overall caloric intake was the same.' Long-term consumption also 'led to abnormal increases in body fat, especially in the abdomen, and a rise in circulating blood fats called triglycerides.' Psychology professor Bart Hoebel commented that 'When rats are drinking high-fructose corn syrup at levels well below those in soda pop, they're becoming obese — every single one, across the board. Even when rats are fed a high-fat diet, you don't see this; they don't all gain extra weight.'"

Re:Caffeine is a drug.. (1)

AvitarX (172628) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790935)

Yes, but the post you are responding to is comparing soda levels of HFCS (and artificial sweeteners) to coffee.

I don't buy that HFCS is particularly bad, but I am willing to be the sugar calories in a self-sugared (or non-sugared even, there was no implication of over-sweet coffee) are far lower than red-bull or soda.

Re:Caffeine is a drug.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42791003)

Leptin, buddy. Leptin.

That 6% more fructose does have an effect, and it throws off your leptin, which means it takes more sugars to signal the brain that you can stop eating, now.

All on it's own this means nothing, and does nothing, as you say. But when you zoom out from looking at just the chemical metabolism, you'll find that HFCS tends to encourage you to eat more. This seems to be linked to obesity.

Re:Caffeine is a drug.. (5, Informative)

Obfuscant (592200) | about a year and a half ago | (#42791013)

Put this stupid myth to rest.

You mean the myth that using fructose in place of sucrose makes no difference?

The simple fact that a simple sugar has already been broken down to a simple sugar means that it will flood the system much more quickly than a more complex sugar that needs to be converted before transport. If we don't need to pay attention to what the sugars are, then explain why cellulose (long chains of glucose) are indigestible, while simple glucose floods the system almost as soon as it is ingested.

Yes, sir, the metabolic paths for glucose and fructose are different, and flooding the liver with massive amounts of fructose rapidly does result in a different effect than a slower appearance of glucose. The liver and endocrine systems need time to react to the influx of the sugars no matter what they are, so a rapidly appearing slug of one kind of sugar can easily overwhelm the regulatory mechanisms of the body and cause harm where a slower appearance of a different sugar does not. That harm may only be an unnecessary conversion of sugars to glycogen and fat, but in the long term that results in obesity and that can be harmful.

You're talking to a diabetic who has monitored his blood sugar for years through all kinds of experiments with different sugars, who can tell you that the "glycemic index" and "sugar alcohols" information is a truly dangerous myth, along with the sugar industry shills telling us that there is no danger from HFCS. Yes, you're right that cutting sugar overall is a good thing, but trying to claim that if you are going to down a sugar laden drink that it makes no difference is just parroting the sugar industry media flacks. You'd point to data denying global warming or the link between smoking and cancer as being from an industry source, why are you so quick to accept data from the sugar industry?

Re:Caffeine is a drug.. (1)

murphtall (1979734) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790401)

You can easily buy 100g of caffeine from amazon for under 20 usd. I know cuz I did. I like it in my breakfast smoothies. Just google anhydrous caffeine

Re:Caffeine is a drug.. (3, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790627)

"The no-cal versions have vast quantities of strange sweeteners."

Really? My sugar free coffee every morning has none of those. What twisted person would defile the holy coffee by adding anything to it?

Re:Caffeine is a drug.. (2)

dissy (172727) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790941)

... assuming you can still legally buy caffeine pills OTC (or maybe over the net) like Vivaran (sp?) ...

One of my favorite health food stores sells pure powdered caffeine in bulk.
$13 for a half ounce (smallest increment) up to $300 for a kilogram (Largest increment as far as price breaks go)

That same health food store also sells empty gellotin capsules with which pure caffeine pills can be made, without all the stomach churning effects from the rest of the commercial "energy blends"

There is a huge market for caffeine, and anything the FDA could end up doing is only going to make matters worse, just like every other time they've put their fingers into things in the past decade and ended up costing lives :/ I really hope they find enough sense to leave this one alone.

Re:Caffeine is a drug.. (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42790133)

Placebo effect maybe?
Asking this because I used to play a prank to a friend of mine whenever he came for dinner: He always complained about being unable to fall asleep after drinking coffee, so since we all drank coffee after dinner I started giving him decaf without him knowing.
Guess what, when asked the day after or a couple of days later he would say that he had difficulty falling asleep with decaf as well... Well, he didn't knew it was decaf.
After a couple of repeats I finally told him that we were giving him decaf.... and I switch, started giving him coffee again. You got it, when asked he would say that he didn't had any problem falling asleep.

But then again, it may not be the case with you.

Re:Caffeine is a drug.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42790173)

Possibly Niacin.

Re:Caffeine is a drug.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42790669)

Seems like the obvious solution would be to call the lower bound of when people suffer negative health limits the upper limit on safe consumption.

Re:Caffeine is a drug.. (3, Informative)

nabsltd (1313397) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790993)

I can drink a red bull, a monster, a coke, tea, or anything but coffee and easily take a long nap afterwards. Something about the caffeine I get through coffee is different.

Depending on how it is prepared, coffee can have more caffeine than Red Bull, and definitely has more than Coca-Cola and the vast majority of teas. See this table [wikipedia.org] for details.

You can also do some searching and see that the "caffeine" in various substances isn't always the real thing, but instead is closely related compounds.

Re:Caffeine is a drug.. (1)

anagama (611277) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790999)

I can drink a red bull, a monster, a coke, tea, or anything but coffee and easily take a long nap afterwards. Something about the caffeine I get through coffee is different. It actually makes me feel alert and awake.

I used to drink tons of coffee and lattes -- it's a nice to thing to drink here in the Pacific NW because our weather and hot drinks go perfectly together. I drank it because I like the way it tastes, but it never woke me up in the morning or kept me awake at night. I'd make myself a latte just before bed sometimes. Hot milk is really soothing (don't go there, you know what I mean).

Then about four or five years ago I started to shake. It was embarrassing -- like I was jonesing for cocaine or meth or something. So now I drink decaff. It too neither wakes me up nor keeps me up.

Re:Caffeine is a drug.. (5, Funny)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790471)

The part about caffeine that is dangerous is that, like other stimulants, it gives the impression of improved brain performance without really delivering it.

That's not true for all drugs. For example, ethanol intake makes me funnier, smarter, stronger, and sexier.

Re:Caffeine is a drug.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42790495)

Not trying to be a d here but do you have evidence to back up the claim that it doesn't improve cognitive performance?

I don't have one to prove it does but anecdotal support abounds. Especially once you are tolerant/dependent on it.

I drink tea, it's had a lot more human trials than this Red Bull type chemical slurry people love these days.

Re:Caffeine is a drug.. (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790945)

Completely agree. I'd love to see a citation.

I'm also aware that an anecdote does not a trend make, but I can think of cases where I was simply non-functional due to tiredness, yet was able to accomplish a good amount of solid work once caffeine had some time to kick in. I'll admit that some of my work was not my best (e.g. the grad school term paper I started at 2am on the due date and finished 14 hours later after writing 99 pages), but if I have a large lunch, caffeine keeps me from simply entering a dazed coma, allowing me to actually be productive during that hour or two where I would otherwise be rather useless.

Re:Caffeine is a drug.. (4, Informative)

hierophanta (1345511) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790857)

This is actually scientifically not true. Caffeine affects us by blocking the chemicals that make us tired. As a result we are not only feeling more awake, but actually are more awake. The crash that occurs is because the chemicals that have been blocked thus far, are in a waiting pattern until their blockage disappears after which they flood the receptors. I do agree though, there is a good amount for false positive when it comes to perceived performance though.

Re:Caffeine is a drug.. (1)

sepiroth (598780) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790959)

But it does improve brain performance in a certain way [wikipedia]. It does not last though and the after effect can have an opposite effect.

2008 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42789779)

A journal article from 2008. Thanks, Slashdot. Cutting edge stuff, really.

Re:2008 (1)

HaZardman27 (1521119) | about a year and a half ago | (#42789971)

That wasn't the primary article linked to in the summary, genius.

Mmm Coffee And Cigarettes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42789783)

Mmm Coffee And Cigarettes.

Re:Mmm Coffee And Cigarettes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42791049)

Makes the morning go so much better.

And by go, I mean go.

Um... (4, Insightful)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about a year and a half ago | (#42789795)

Caffeine gets cleared from the body at different rates because of genetic variations, gender, and even whether a person is a smoker.

...Isn't that true for most substances?

Re:Um... (2)

kevkingofthesea (2668309) | about a year and a half ago | (#42789865)

Yes, to varying degrees, but a lot of substances have fairly predictable half-lives in the body.

Re:Um... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42790011)

All water soluble non-digested chemicals, yes. If something is digested, it is broken up into different compounds that you need to pay attention to, and fat soluble chemicals never actually leave (like LSD), they just get stored away in the alrd region.

The nearly avoided meaning of this article is that caffeine (like alcohol) is a dangerous drug, but also has such a massive culture of (mild) use that it is very hard to come up with regulations that won't get the authors lynched. Much like alcohol and other water soluble drugs, you can cart out examples of overdoses and garner sympathy, but whenever you try to draw a line it is either 1) effectively random as many people consume more with no ill effects or 2) accurate but sufficiently complicated that you need a blood test to see where you stand. Unlike alcohol, there isn't a group of MADD mothers trying to guilt-trip everyone into outlawing it completely (just a group of Mormons, but they're not as loud). As I am sufficiently disinterested in most drugs, I do not know which examples of banned chemical are water soluble, but I'm sure a devout libertarian can come in and fill in the blanks.

Re:Um... (3, Informative)

Brian Feldman (350) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790715)

fat soluble chemicals never actually leave (like LSD), they just get stored away in the alrd region

This is wrong. Lysergic acid diethylamide is broken down by monoamineoxidase. This is just like the myth of LSD being stored in your spinal fluid and causing flashbacks or the one of THC being stored in your fat and getting you high when you exercise -- completely baseless.

Re:Um... (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790979)

Unlike alcohol, there isn't a group of MADD mothers trying to guilt-trip everyone into outlawing it completely (just a group of Mormons, but they're not as loud).

Well, MADD is against drunk driving, which is an activity that one can participate in, but the consequences of which are normally borne by someone completely innocent. That's a fairly big injustice. Same goes for cellphones and driving - the user most likely will survive whatever happens, but the third party often will not. It's really a form of privatizing profit (I can drink and drive myself home, or I'm bored, let's see what's on twitter right now), and socializing risk (I won't die, most likely. Who cares about the other car or pedestrian or cyclist? They knew the risks). Of course, I'm not advocating prohibition, just prohibiition should you wish to drive.

And yes, sleepiness while driving is also a bad habit, which is also borne from our work ethic and culture, something we also need to change so the roads aren't filled with half-awake zombies. (Caffeine can help to a limited extent).

OD'ing on caffeine results in the OD'er making a (possibly one-way) trip to the ER, so the risk is borne completely by the person participating in the activity. In this case, it's perfectly acceptable - I don't care what you do to your body, as long as it doesn't affect me. Drunk driving, texting, sleepiness, they affect me as I could be the victim of your bad judgement. But OD'ing on caffeine? Not so much (except in a contrived case where you OD'd and fell dead behind the wheel and I happened to not notice you careening around the road).

Re:Um... (2)

Shoten (260439) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790765)

What's most true about most substances and also caffeine is "that lethal limit can vary widely from person to person." Yeah, that's true of most things; hence the standard measure of toxicity for anything is called "LD50," which stands for "lethal dose, 50%". It's the dosage in mass of substance/kg of body weight that will kill 50% of people who ingest/breathe/snort/whatever it. So why this is some kind of huge challenge is beyond me. For some substances the deviation from LD50 is smaller (botulinus toxin) and for others it's larger, but you still have a good means of measuring it, and the LD50 for caffeine is 192mg/kg for rats, 224 mg/kg for rabbits, 127 mg/kg for mice, and so on. (I'll know the LD50 for Bob as soon as he stops twitching... *turns to look behind me* "Settle down Bob, this will all be over soon. There's no sense trying to chew through the duct tape; I used too much of it for you to be able to get away.")

It also seems that what matters isn't the half-life of caffeine. Caffeine is absorbed almost instantly within the gut; it will actually travel through your skin, if you rub it on your body, it's so easily absorbed. So the peak concentration in the blood is pretty easy to predict, coming at just after the time of peak dosage consumption. Anything after that is lower, unless you consume mor....ahhh, I get it now.

Re:Um... (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | about a year and a half ago | (#42791181)

"Settle down Bob, this will all be over soon. There's no sense trying to chew through the duct tape; I used too much of it for you to be able to get away."

Sorry, your data has been contaminated by the lethal effects of the adhesive on the back of duct tape. The LD50 is pretty small, I know, since it takes very little duct tape when applied to cover the nose and mouth of a person to make them a statistic. At least in my experience.

Re:Um... (1)

crazycheetah (1416001) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790907)

It is.

According to my Physiology/Pharmacology textbook, the half-life of caffeine is 3-7 hours, though. Most drugs are cleared from the body at different rates depending on the person, but you can figure out a typical half-life range fairly easily. I don't know why the writer of this article ignored that (unless they just didn't bother to research it any more or thought that it complicated the article more than necessary).

The smell alone (2)

futhermocker (2667575) | about a year and a half ago | (#42789841)

Makes me want to puke.

Although being a coffee addict myself I never tried a single can of "power" or "energy" drinks, just because the smell is so distinct, yuck!

Cougar Boost anybody? /American Dad

Mr Anecdotal here (3, Insightful)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | about a year and a half ago | (#42789873)

Some caffeine from Green Tea keeps me programming, driving, studying, etc. Red Bull makes me wound up and literally makes my heart skip a beat every now and then. Straight caffeine pills just knock me out and a few hours later make me angry. So needless to say I limit myself to occasional green teas. (Matcha!)

If my wife has a coffee after 6pm she will have trouble sleeping that night.

My brothers can't operate with much less than 5+ cups of strong coffee per day.

So needless to say within my reach are a pretty wide set of reactions to caffeine. The drug I would love to see studied even more is Chocolate.

Re:Mr Anecdotal here (2)

magic maverick (2615475) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790399)

Some caffeine from Green Tea keeps me programming, driving, studying, etc. Red Bull makes me wound up and literally makes my heart skip a beat every now and then. Straight caffeine pills just knock me out and a few hours later make me angry. So needless to say I limit myself to occasional green teas. (Matcha!)

Red Bull has other stuff (like taurine) besides caffeine that might be the cause. The green tea making (do you have rituals?) might be part of what helps you keep going as well.

If my wife has a coffee after 6pm she will have trouble sleeping that night.

Do a controlled test. Give her a decafe, but don't tell her it's decafe. As normal, see if it affects her. Proper double blind tests have shown that students (it's always students because they are cheap) act as if decafe has caffeine, but that warm milk laced with caffeine is just warm milk (and thus helps them sleep).

My brothers can't operate with much less than 5+ cups of strong coffee per day.

Suggest that they wean themselves off the stuff. It's not healthy at those levels. Swap in a decafe instead of ordinary coffee, and then continue with the other 4+ cups for a bit. Then swap out another coffee for decafe, and repeat until only drinking decafe. It might be the taste and the associated feelings of relaxation they are really after (rather than the caffeine).

So needless to say within my reach are a pretty wide set of reactions to caffeine. The drug I would love to see studied even more is Chocolate.

I'd rather they studied THC and LCD more. Chocolate is legal, the other two should be.
---
Point of this post is that it might not just be the particular drug, it might also be the associations that the person has with the drug. Some people only smoke when drinking for example. Or smoke after sex (so /.ers wouldn't smoke in that case... haha).
And some people just feel like a cup of good tea or a glass of beer after a hard days work. It's the association of, well, work's over I can relax.

Re:Mr Anecdotal here (1)

dunkelfalke (91624) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790483)

The tannins in the tea slow down and stretch in time the caffeine absorption so instead of a rush you get a very mild, but prolonged high. Well, then again, Gyokuro is still pretty strong stuff.

The best legal stimulant, but should be respected. (1)

urbanriot (924981) | about a year and a half ago | (#42789879)

Since I've become an adult with habitual patterns, I've been able to tangibly gauge the effects of caffeine on my mind and I'm not entirely sure that young people, what with all the other natural chemicals raging through their body, are able to do the same.

I'm a person that's tangibly sensitive to the effects of caffeine. For me, a single morning cup of coffee can immediately waken me to the point where I'd be if I naturally allowed myself that one hour transition from waking to working. However, a second cup of coffee within a 5 hour period will cause my mind to race faster than I can effectively communicate and I have 'the jitters'. Also, a large cup of Starbucks will literally make it impossible for me to work as I can't focus on my screen or conversations. And if I have a coffee after 3:00 PM? I can forget about sleeping before 2:00 AM.

What works best for me, what allows me to reach an effective plateau, is one cup of coffee in the morning and a cup of green tea (or yerba) in the afternoon - I'm always sharp, on the ball and I'm less distracted by whatever causes ADHD.

Re:The best legal stimulant, but should be respect (1)

cockroach2 (117475) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790423)

Well, I envy you. I haven't felt any effect from coffee in ages (I literally cannot remember if it ever affected me) and I can easily go to sleep after a strong cup of coffee. I may have to try significantly higher dosages but I don't really like the idea. Having a substance as easily available as coffee actually keep you awake must be awesome...

Re:The best legal stimulant, but should be respect (1)

urbanriot (924981) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790517)

Yea, I've heard the same from friends, that they can sleep after a cup of coffee and I found that bizarre. I suppose these differing experiences lends credence to the linked article. My experience with caffeine has remained the same for as long as I can remember, at least since my mid 20's. Too much coffee has a visible effect on me.

Re:The best legal stimulant, but should be respect (1)

PRMan (959735) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790719)

The same for me. I have a strong iced tea in the morning and then a coke at lunch. That keeps me going. Without them, I really don't do well mentally. This is down from 4 cokes, so I have really tried to cut it back to the minimum, but I just can't do less than that and still function.

Toxic level (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42789881)

The toxic level in humans, about 10 g, is roughly the equivalent of imbibing 75 cups of brewed coffee (in 8-oz mugs) or 120 cans of Red Bull over a few hours.

According to the eminent Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] , that's the LD50 (150 to 200 mg/kg).
If you gave an average group of humans 10g of caffeine, half of them would die.

Now LD50 is a way to measure of toxicity, but I think it's fair to assume that a substance is toxic well below the lethal dose.

Re:Toxic level (4, Funny)

MiniMike (234881) | about a year and a half ago | (#42789981)

According to the eminent Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] , that's the LD50 (150 to 200 mg/kg).
If you gave an average group of humans 10g of caffeine, half of them would die.

But you wouldn't know which ones for a few hours...

Re:Toxic level (1)

Ol Biscuitbarrel (1859702) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790151)

Should people be smoking fancy cigars instead? Why don't you smoke it already? Puff, puff! Go, go, go, go, go!

Re:Toxic level (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42790389)

Just replying to say I got your reference.

Re:Toxic level (1)

Ol Biscuitbarrel (1859702) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790901)

The key is to grab life by the hojos!

Re:Toxic level (1)

vlm (69642) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790147)

I think it's fair to assume that a substance is toxic well below the lethal dose.

Careful, there's a lot of stuff like water, salt (at least WRT about 90% of the population), water soluble vitamins, minerals, and "food" in general where that doesn't even remotely apply.

Re:Toxic level (1)

dissy (172727) | about a year and a half ago | (#42791061)

I think it's fair to assume that a substance is toxic well below the lethal dose.

Careful, there's a lot of stuff like water *snip*

Careful now, we shouldn't underestimate the lethal dangers of Dihydrogen Monoxide!

After all, it's shown to "mutate DNA, denature proteins, disrupt cell membranes, and chemically alter critical neurotransmitters"

We should all be very concerned about this dangerous substance!

-- dhmo.org forever

There should be a simple test (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42789913)

that would measure the effect on the subject, rather than physiological measures.

Give the subject some simple tasks and ask him or her to solve the problem using Perl. Check back after two hours:

- less than 50 Perl LOC: not enough caffeine
- 50 - 500 Perl LOC: just enough caffeine
- more than 500 Perl LOC: too much caffeine

Re:There should be a simple test (3, Funny)

PRMan (959735) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790743)

I would think it would be more like:

- 500 lines of Perl: not enough caffeine
- 50 lines of Perl: just enough caffeine
- 1 line of Perl: too much caffeine

Re:There should be a simple test (1)

chmod a+x mojo (965286) | about a year and a half ago | (#42791097)

PERL has lines? I always just sat on my keyboard.... it looks the same.

Re:There should be a simple test (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42791173)

I find that if you tried to graph the effects of caffeine on programming, it would look more like the graph for the ballmer's peak... The trick becomes mixing the two to reach that peak and maintain the peak of both at the same time for an extended amount of time...

At least they already regulated the important part (1)

medv4380 (1604309) | about a year and a half ago | (#42789953)

I can see the problems they are having with regulation. They got the important part at least with getting rid of alcoholic energy drinks. The Idiots mixing Alcohol and Energy drinks now have to do it on their own. Selling it at a store already mixed gives people a false sense of safety. Whoever thought of mixing a Red Bull or Coffee with alcohol was a moron. Things like Red Bull and Coffee have too little caffeine unless you're sensitive. I think their real issue should be with things like 5 hour energy where it's a 4 shots of coffee in a small container. 4 cups of coffee over the day probably wont kill you even if you're sensitive. But one shot of 5 hour energy is a different story if you're sensitive to it.

Re:At least they already regulated the important p (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42790407)

There's nothing wrong with some whiskey or scotch in coffee.
There's everything wrong with stupid morons. Can we please just get rid of the warning labels and let them kill themselves off?

symptoms of a bigger problem (1)

CaptainNerdCave (982411) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790023)

The FDA _should_ keep dragging its collective feet, because there are MANY more dangerous things that should be targeted first, alcohol being number one on that list. My guess is that the main reason there are so many people going to hospitals with caffeine-related symptoms is because this country is overloaded with obese people who have heart conditions. This is just another instance of natural selection.

Caffeine's deadly effects are already well-known, it's called "LD50", like many other substances that can be detrimental in huge quantities. Any guesses about if consuming that much caffeine with that much fluid actually can cause one to die? That's another argument.

Ephedra disappeared from the market because of negative press coverage of several stupid athletes who abused it. I doubt caffeine is in any real danger, it's even more prevalent than alcohol, because it doesn't stop a person from functioning as a person.

Different rates? isn't this also true of alcohol? (2)

fantomas (94850) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790073)

From the summary: "Caffeine gets cleared from the body at different rates because of genetic variations, gender, and even whether a person is a smoker."

- isn't this also true of alcohol? Any slashdot readers with a bit of medical knowledge help me understand the difference between how the body processes the two different substances?

Re:Different rates? isn't this also true of alcoho (2)

Talennor (612270) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790185)

Difference: Current US regulation: you must clearly state the amount of alcohol in any canned/bottled/whatever drink.

Re:Different rates? isn't this also true of alcoho (1)

PRMan (959735) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790769)

So, then, a GREAT first step would be to require companies to label how much caffeine is in their product, so we can have a relative scale.

Re:Different rates? isn't this also true of alcoho (1)

dbet (1607261) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790971)

Hmm. I have a Yuengling lager in my hand, made and consumed in the U.S., and there is no stated alcohol percent anywhere on it. Maybe it's on the case? Don't know.

Re:Different rates? isn't this also true of alcoho (1)

medv4380 (1604309) | about a year and a half ago | (#42791043)

They are both very different chemically. People who are sensitive to Caffeine might not be sensitive to alcohol. Caffeine was mostly a black box up until the last 5 years. It works by messing with a couple of hormones, Estrogen and something else that I can't remember along with who knows what else. It is a stimulant so it wires you up. Alcohol on the other hand works with different hormones, testosterone being one of them. It also impedes the brain as a depressant. Even though you see that they are similar, in that gender and genetic variations play a roll, the same variations may or may not play a roll. Ultimately the liver, and water levels in the body play a roll in expelling both of them, and you could have a mutation in the liver that helps or hinders ether process.

More helmet & seat belt laws (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790121)

Every drug affects every user individually, and to further confound things, the effects often vary in the individual user from one dose to the next. Alcohol, marijuana, Advil, and opiates are each subject to personal efficacy variables such as frequency of use, innate tolerance, mood, sleep patterns, amount of food ingested, and undoubtedly many more. This is the very thing that separates the thinking man from the drug abuser. I don't need to be told via a County burn ban not to burn trash when it hasn't rained in two months and everything in between the burn pile and my home is dry tinder. I don't need to be told what my optimal morning caffeine ingestion amount is.

At that volume, pure water will kill you (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790137)

n/t

How? (3, Interesting)

ak3ldama (554026) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790317)

How can they regulate this? You can go to almost any grocery/goods store and buy a 33 ounch can of ground coffee. They would surely let you buy as many of these as you wish to. Since a bunch of stupid white kids drink monsters too fast they now need to pursue regulation of it? Really? I know, maybe they should pass a law stating that energy drinks cannot taste better than coffee so as to damper the enthusiam with which these drinks are imbibed. Dumb.

Caveat of my own stupidity: While in the dorms one weekend night I drank two pots of coffee in a relatively short span of time. What would that be? Maybe 2x 6x cups of coffee? So somewhere around 1200mg or so? Anyways my stomach hurt, my head kinda spun, and my legs twitched a little as I laid in bed wondering when I would fall asleep. I learned from that to take it easy.

Simple Answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42790329)

JUst put a warning label. "Caution: May cause death in high volumes. Drink at your own risk." And let people figure out for themselves where their toxicity level is.

And no, I'm not biased (drinking my fourth cup of coffee just for the afternoon).

Why is it so hard? (1)

Dishwasha (125561) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790345)

Why doesn't the FDA do like any other governmental or lawmaking entity does and write the laws to the weakest denominator and make everybody else suffer?

Isn't it hilarious? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42790409)

Such an unstable compound is allowed freely on the market, yet some completely harmless ones that are overdosed because they have been forced to street drug taking (and often mixing) are banned completely.

I'm glad that MDMA is finally getting looked at, AGAIN, for use in treatment of severe depression and stress.
The damn thing isn't bad in the slightest, what is bad is the doses given out by silly little chemistry dropouts or dealers mixed with fucking talcum powder or some other nonsense. I've seen so many descriptions of people taking E that are completely and factually incorrect to what MDMA actually does to you.
So many of them have been mixed with speed or other crap like that.

Note that I am not a person that even takes drugs like that for getting some high or whatever.
The best part about an energy drink is the taste, mainly, and pretty much all of them have the same damn tastes too.
And even then, I rarely have them as is, maybe twice every 1.5~months when I buy a couple bottles of Rockstar. (which actually does taste different in this case, and really damn good)

But even I can see how moronic the drug bans are. And worse is passive drugs are on the verge of being increased. Passive drugs should be outright BANNED.
Passive drugs do cause damage, and can even cause more damage to others in some cases. (simple example being smoking through a filter, then blowing anything away from you towards other people, they inhale a good chunk of that smoke that never went through a filter, bam, considerable more damage already, most will be breathed back out, but the damage was alreay done)
I'd be completely fine with people getting shitfaced on heroin out the ass, or that drug that rots bodies, kill yourself all you want, but weed? Hell no. Get out. Inject that crap in to your eyeballs all you want, but burning anything organic is carcinogenic and seriously damaging. That includes even burning food. (but that is for another argument)
Obviously nobody can regulate what happens in the walls of ones house very easily, but putting children at risk for one should be seriously punished. As much as a potentially psycho parent would be. Both will either hinder or kill the kid earlier than they should have been in the end. There is no stretching, just compression.
In the end, they cause far more damage to everything else which makes everyone else suffer indirectly. It IS bad, period. Opinions don't even matter.

In the case of Caffeine, it is a rare exception to the rule. Doses don't seem to have any easy relation to bodies to measure.
But it isn't passive so shouldn't be banned, just warned against. (like fatty foods, heavy salt, etc.)
Obviously deal with cases of HUGE doses in a single drink because that stuffs nasty even for those who are capable of taking it. (same deal with alcohol)

Oh this world sucks sometimes. It reminds me of a whiny 13 year old. That is where society is right now. A whiny emo 13 year old who cuts. It is embarrassing.
So inconsistent, wasteful, annoying and suicidal, don't forget over-entitled to everything.

Hacker habits (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790425)

I hope the hacker community has grown out of the old culture of everyone robotically drinking coffee and caffeinated sodas. Sometimes at workplace it's sad to see someone churning code and a huge pile of empty energy drink cans aside him. Like, is this some kind of tough profession through which you have to be constantly mildly drugged to cope. Slightly disgusting.

Re:Hacker habits (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42791091)

"Slightly disgusting"
Oh, sure, overlook the penicillin growing in last weeks pizza box, tissue all over from 2001 but focus on the Jolt Cola cans. You shouldn't be looking in my cubical, it's not FDA approved.

"regulate"? (1)

skelly33 (891182) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790477)

I'm not so sure regulate is even the right word. They might make a recommendation for maximum daily allowance, but unless they're going to make it a federally controlled substance (i.e. on par with cocaine), the FDA will in fact have no degree of control - or "regulation" if you will - over people's personal intake. Even alcoholic beverages are not "regulated" for quantity of consumption. They may charge a tax on it... they may make a test that measures how much is too much when operating a vehicle... but they can't regulate the amount that an individual consumes - over-consumption regularly lands people in the hospital or the morgue.

Safe (relative) caffeine intake, like alcohol, comes down to one knowing their own limits and self-regulating. Awareness is important, and the FDA could certainly have an impact on that. Personally, I have discovered in recent years that I actually have zero tolerance for caffeine after that last cup of coffee landed me in an urgent care facility. I can't even enjoy my favorite, Dr. Pepper any more because there is no caffeine-free variant of it. It wasn't remotely a matter of over doing it, it was simply an unusually high sensitivity to caffeine that developed over time. Occasionally I will try a decaf coffee or a Coke to see if the reaction is still there and I am quickly greeted with difficulty breathing.

75 cups of plain WATER is toxic! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42790507)

Forget the caffeine. 75 Cups of plain water is toxic. Wiki-Water Poisoning [wikipedia.org]

Only used by poseurs and amateurs... (2)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790693)

I see the fake programmers try and use coffee every day to code faster. What a bunch of noobs. Anyone that is a true pro already knows that Cocaine is the one true way to get that project done on time and with GENIUS level code.

Idiot (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790745)

For Christs sakes just read the fucking studies. Almost everything about Caffeine is good... The ONLY long-term down side of caffeine is a suspected slight increase risk in ovarian and breast cancer. They of course have no proof of this, and it's only suspected because caffeine leads to the fluctuation of plasma sex hormones and SHBG in women. But there are no studies that have shown it actually leads to any sort of increase in cancer risk.

If you look at the collective research on caffeine it actually reduces the risk of developing some pretty major diseases across the board.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_effects_of_caffeine [wikipedia.org]

You should drink caffeine, it's good for you. If you're neurotic, anxiety ridden and prone to running to the hospital every time you get a hang nail, you probably shouldn't drink 10 redbulls and then start surfing WebMD. Which, I suspect, is the real source of these increases in hospital visits.

Re:Idiot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42790995)

But are we seeing a fair, unbiased picture? Many people love caffeinated drinks, and thus maybe more or less subconsciously want to find good things about caffeine to publish. Then there is the huge coffee industry which probably has some selective power on what kind of things get published.

For starters, I know that caffeine is a vasoconstrictor (blood vessel constrictor), which impacts negatively the blood flow to your brain. It also disturbs your adenosine collection, thus preventing a proper sleep pressure to build up, which means that you can't get as deep sleep the next night. And so on.

as a long time abuser (1)

DECula (6113) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790819)

I have never come close to the minimum lethal dose (injected) of 3.2 grams, but I have done as much as 1.2 grams in a 24 hour period. It's great for focusing on 1 project. A few jitters, but not horrible - compared to the time when I went cold turkey on sugar for 2 months and had a 44 ounce unnamed citrus soda. It was hell trying to play Duke Nukem.

I'm a bit aware that my ordering a pound of white powder and having it sent through the mail may raise some eyebrows, but they'll just have to find their own. It's MINE, all mine, I tell ya!

US coffee or real coffee? (1)

madmarcel (610409) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790937)

"The toxic level in humans, about 10 g, is roughly the equivalent of imbibing 75 cups of brewed coffee (in 8-oz mugs) or 120 cans of Red Bull over a few hours."

Is that 75 cups of US coffee or real coffee like we drink in the rest of the world?

You'd have to regulate coffee, then, too. (1)

kheldan (1460303) | about a year and a half ago | (#42791241)

There is coffee out there that has as much naturally-occurring caffeine in it as many energy drinks. If you're going to start regulating caffeine content in any sort of drinks, then you have to do it for coffee as well. That is why it won't be done, and that's why it hasn't already been done: nobody is going to screw with coffee.

Leave energy drinks alone. The number of people having serious problems because of them aren't that many, and the ones who do are being excessively stupid about their consumption of them to start with.
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