Drop that cup of coffee. And the energy drink.
Studies by the Center for Disease Control reported that the average American is taking in as much as 300 mg. of caffeine every day. For those who don’t drink coffee, that’s three No-Doz pills.
Jordan Lowe, an MSU Denver junior, said that he regularly drinks three 8-ounce cups of coffee per day. He said that he goes through withdrawals as the caffeine wears off and considers himself an addict.
“I got hooked really young,” he said. “I was 15 months old and my family lived in Mexico. The water wasn’t safe to drink and I was allergic to milk. Coffee was made with boiled water and was safe to drink.”
The owner of a drip coffee maker, an espresso steamer and a French press, Lowe said that his record intake was 17 cups in one day when he visited a coffee plantation in Panama.
Today’s average caffeine intake was increased by 300 percent increase compared to the average intake of the 1950s. Coffee is no longer the only culprit. Energy drinks are storming the market, dropping the age of caffeine imbibers to the 12 to 14 year-old range.
Dr. Mary Claire O’Brien, an associate professor at Wake Forest’s Baptist Medical Center, is on the board of the Journal of Caffeine Research. She notes that the medical community is becoming alarmed at the amount of caffeine that children and adolescents are drinking.
“If you suggest putting an espresso machine in a middle school, people would think you are out of your mind,” she said. “But people don’t think twice about them consuming energy drinks and soft drinks.”
A new twist on the caffeinated energy drink is the “CAB”’ or caffeinated alcoholic beverage. The New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services recently released an information sheet warning against the use of CABs, particularly by under-aged college students. Twenty-six percent of college students consume caffeine and alcohol together, according to the CDC.
Alcohol does not have to be mixed with caffeine for caffeinated beverages to become health problems. O’Brien said that adverse reactions due to caffeine abuse increased tenfold between 2005 and 2009. The average age of the abuser was twenty-one.
Kelly Steward, MSU Denver senior, drinks only one cup of coffee a day at most, she said, and sometimes goes a few days without drinking any coffee at all.
“I get cranky if a go a few days without coffee,” she said. “But I don’t think I’m addicted. I think I just like coffee.”