Caffeine serves up health risks

More and more college students are depending on caffeine as a late night study buddy and an early morning stimulant.

“I try not to consume more than one can of soda a day,” said Tanesha Taylor, 22, a sophomore health science student at Florida Community College of Jacksonville.”It helps because it keeps me awake, especially during my boring classes,” Taylor said.

Although it helps some college students for others it has a different effect.

“Caffeine does nothing but make me go to sleep if I drink any,” said Shanta Thomas, 18, a freshman molecular biology student from Orange Park.

Studies show that caffeine is not only linked to many health problems, but is as addictive as the drug nicotine. Coffee, soda and tea are the most common sources of caffeine. However, caffeine also comes in pill form.

College students are especially known to take these pills to help them stay awake and alert.

These pills are available without a prescription at most drug stores.

“I would take caffeine pills if I knew that they worked, or if I had to study for a test,” said Erica Bell, 19, a sophomore marketing student from Detroit.

Just like any other pill, caffeine pills have side effects. Taking these pills may cause numbness in the arms and legs, dizziness and nausea.

Today, the most common place to find students consuming caffeine is at the local coffee houses. Here students can sit, study, socialize and consume all the caffeine they can endure.

The question is, do students drink coffee for social purposes or to enhance performance?

Professor Rachel Sutz of the division of sociology said it is a combination of both. “Students go to a coffee house to sit down and have coffee,” she said. “They also use it at school to help them perform better.”

Some people say the positive effects of consuming large amounts of caffeine outweigh the possible health risks.

“Caffeine probably will help you if you take a lot of it,” said Bell.

However, consuming large doses of caffeine has side effects such as nausea, vomiting and confusion.

It is possible to overdose, and on rare occasions even die, from consuming too much caffeine.

People who overdose from caffeine are not likely to have permanent damage. Caffeine can be a safe stimulant if consumed moderately.