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Caffeine: My best friend, enemy

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Yelena Ovcharenko, Web Editor

Yelena Ovcharenko, Web Editor

Gulp after gulp, the rich and creamy brewed coffee in my eight-ounce mug streams down my throat as its therapeutic fragrance fills the room.

In no time, the 135 milligrams of caffeine rush through my body, making their way to my central nervous system. I am ready to start my day and stay alert in my hectic lifestyle.

As my busy day progresses, I once again crave for the stimulation and energy rush that the first cup produced and reach for another.

I drink coffee, cup after cup, without realizing that this addiction may have side effects.

Millions of columns have been written and countless case studies have been conducted on the effects of coffee. And yet I am writing another one.

People say that you can tell a lot about a person by the type of coffee they drink. I don’t know whether I fall into the category of the assertive, indecisive or plain individual. All I know is that I need coffee in the morning.

Some days are started with an upside down caramel macchiato with extra cream or a cafe vanilla with chocolate on top from Starbucks, while others are kicked off with some good old regular Columbian coffee from the local coffee shop.

However, it seems that at least half of America shares my addiction.

Recently an article in the New York Times said that researchers at the Defense Department’s Combat Feeding program invented a way for soldiers to make instant coffee on the field with a reusable polyethelyene bag, which is accompanied by a flameless ration heater bag to heat it up.

Even though one gets an energy boost from caffeine, another article from the “The Nurse Practitioner” titled “Is Caffeine excess part of your differential diagnosis?” showed that coffee may cause health complications.

The average caffeine intake of a person is 1,400 milligrams a day. Doctors begin advising patients to reduce their caffeine intake when the amount exceeds 250 milligrams per day because this over dosage may cause side effects.

There is no specific dose that causes caffeine to act as a toxin, because the body’s response to caffeine is highly individualized.

When the caffeine wears off, withdrawal may cause agitation, headaches, depression, sleep disturbances, chest pains or increased blood pressure.

It’s interesting to see how many seem to ignore these warnings, since America’s obsession with caffeine has made the drug widely accepted in society.

Hopefully, in the future we’ll learn to moderate this addiction. I guess I’ll start by sticking to one cup a day.

Yelena Ovcharenko, a junior journalism major, is Web editor of the Campus Times. She can be reached by e-mail at

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