Do you think you can’t survive without your morning cup of coffee?
If your morning java is caffeinated, you might be suffering from an extra dose of stress until bedtime, according to a study by researchers at Duke University Medical Center.
Researchers found that caffeine taken in the morning has effects on the body that persist until nighttime and amplifies stress consistently throughout the day. The scientists said that these results show for the first time that the effects of caffeine last considerably longer than originally thought, and that caffeine exaggerates stress in people who consume it every day.
The effects of coffee drinking are long-lasting and exaggerate the body’s stress response by increasing blood pressure and stress hormone levels. But it also magnifies a person’s perception of stress, researchers said.
“People haven’t really accepted the fact that there could be a health downside to caffeine consumption, but our evidence — and that of other studies — shows that this downside exists and people should be aware of it in order to make the best possible health choices,” researchers said.
The researchers studied 47 healthy, habitual coffee drinkers, with half receiving caffeine, and half receiving a placebo.
The researchers found that caffeine consumption significantly raised systolic and diastolic blood pressure consistently throughout the day and night, and adrenaline levels rose by 32 percent. The elevated levels persisted as the evening progressed to bedtime.
The study also showed that while caffeine increases blood pressure and heart rate, it also amplifies those effects at the times when participants report higher levels of stress during their day, researchers said.
“The caffeine we drink enhances the effects of the stresses we experience, so if we have a stressful job, drinking coffee makes our body respond more to the ordinary stresses we experience,” he said. “Everyone accepts that stress can be unhealthy. Our results suggest that drinking coffee or other caffeinated drinks can make stress even more unhealthy.”
The researchers said that while habitual coffee drinkers might be expected to demonstrate tolerance to the effects of caffeine, they still showed significant responses to the drug.
“Our findings indicate that eliminating coffee and other caffeinated beverages from the diet could be a helpful way to decrease blood pressure and other stress reactions,” researchers said. “We think that people who feel ‘stressed out’ should at least consider quitting caffeine to see if they feel better. Quitting caffeine could be particularly beneficial for people suffering from high blood pressure, just as diet and exercise can help keep blood pressure under control.”
The researchers said that even though popular popular caffeinated beverages such as coffee are perceived as safe, the drug shows short-term negative health effects that, if continued over a period of years, could increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.
“While today’s cup of coffee might not, by itself, cause you much harm, the cumulative effects of drinking it day after day over a lifetime could really be unhealthy,” researchers said.