The college caffeine fix is an unhealthy habit

By Karli Morello
November 3, 2006

There is nothing like that 8 a.m. pick-me-up before your 8:15 class that you dread. As you walk into Jazzman’s with your eyes half-open and mumble an order for a grande, regular coffee, you don’t think you’re going to make it through the rest of the day.

Then finally, you get that first sip of that hot, steamy substance that awakens your senses and gets your blood pumping.

Caffeine is replacing sleep among college students and it is not a healthy life-style choice.

Soda, coffee and sweet breakfast treats are what is keeping college students awake in their classes and helping them keep their eyes open to study.

I’ve never been a coffee drinker but I do enjoy soda from time to time, but never would I drink soda with my breakfast, it just doesn’t fit. Instead I grab some milk, apple juice or orange juice, which is not loaded with caffeine.

However, most college students, instead of soda for breakfast, go for a coffee.

Coffee has its own distinct taste that just doesn’t appeal to me on a regular basis. It can be enjoyable though. I must admit, a steaming, hot coffee on an early, winter morning definitely hits the spot.

Junior secondary education and English major Corinne Szymczak admits that she is addicted to caffeine.

“I probably intake way too much and I went through caffeine withdrawal once already in my life,” Szymczak said. She said that she was not able to have any caffeine for a few weeks and felt shaky and tired without it.

Szymczak also drinks excessive amounts of coffee. “I’m pretty much obsessed with white chocolate mochas at Starbucks.”

Obviously, some people just can’t get through their day without their caffeine fix and it shows unhealthy results.

Researchers at Duke University Medical Center found that caffeine actually increases stress and its effect lasts all day. The researchers also found that four cups of coffee raises blood pressure significantly for many hours.

Caffeine is not just for morning people though. People who consume caffeine regularly throughout the day and not limited to the A.M. hours have shown to be awake later and sleep lighter.

This can’t be healthy, especially for college students. Between 15 credits of classes, studying, homework, sports and having a social life, sleep is limited as it is. Caffeine intake by college students can only make one more tired at the beginning of a day.

Besides the unhealthy risks of consuming caffeine, there are few good sides to the substance.

Caffeine is shown to possibly reduce the risk of skin cancer and boosts short-term memory.

Florian Koppelstaetter, MD, a radiology associate at Austria’s Medical University Innsbruck, reported that caffeine boosted activity in brain regions related to attention and short-term memory in a study.

As far as caffeine reducing skin cancer, it seems hard to believe, but there was a study done at Rutgers University College of Pharmacy that reported that when caffeine was applied directly to the skin on mice 72 percent of cancerous tumors were reduced and non-cancerous tumors by 44 percent.

Most college students are coffee and soda drinkers and some choose to stray away from it, but no matter what you do there are always some pros and cons about everything. I will continue to stay away from caffeine drinks, but it is not because of the substance itself, but because it’s just what I do.

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Karli Morello

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