Answers FAQ

Caffeine FAQs

Reviewed by Charles P. Davis, MD, PhD

Take the Caffeine Quiz First! Before reading this FAQ, challenge yourself and
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Q:Caffeine is addictive. True or False?

A:False. Caffeine is a stimulant that excites the brain. While some stimulants, such as nicotine, are considered addictive, you aren't likely to become addicted to caffeine if you consume it in moderation. However, some people can become dependent on caffeine.

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Q:Moderate caffeine consumption may reduce your risk of which certain diseases. True or False?

A:True. Some studies have shown that moderate consumption of caffeine may reduce your risk of diabetes, gallstones, Parkinson's disease, and liver disease. Despite these studies, though, doctors aren't recommending caffeine consumption as a means to reduce your risks of disease.

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Q:Women who consume a lot of caffeine should reduce their consumption when pregnant. True or False?

A:True. Experts say pregnant women would be wise to moderate their intake. Some studies have linked a high intake of caffeine to increased risk for miscarriage and decreased fetal growth, but a cause-and-effect relationship has not been established.

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Q:Mothers can transmit caffeine to their babies in breast milk. True or False?

A:True. Babies can indeed get a dose of caffeine from their mothers' milk. However, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, "A morning cup of coffee is not likely to harm your baby, but too much caffeine can cause problems such as poor sleeping, nervousness, irritability, and poor feeding."

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Q:The caffeine content in a cup of coffee can vary even if you get it at the same place every day. True or False?

A:True. The caffeine content in coffee can vary depending on brewing method, the type of bean used, and the amount prepared. For example, researchers in Florida ordered the same beverage from the same coffee shop for six consecutive days and found that the caffeine content ranged from 259 mg to 564 mg.

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Q:How long do the effects of caffeine last?

A:Longer than five hours. Caffeine's effects last long after you finish that cup of java. It takes five to six hours for your body to eliminate just half of the caffeine in a cup of coffee, which is why having a cup in the afternoon can affect your sleep. In people who are more sensitive to caffeine, the effects may last even longer

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Q:Caffeine helps the body absorb headache drugs more quickly. True or False?

A:True. Caffeine helps the body absorb headache drugs more quickly, bringing faster relief. Adding caffeine requires less medication for the same effect, reducing the risk for potential side effects and possible drug addiction.

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Q:Some skin-care products contain caffeine. True or False?

A:True. Anti-aging products containing caffeine have been shown to help make skin smoother and reduce the appearance of wrinkles.

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Q:Women are more sensitive to caffeine than men. True or False?

A:False. A recent study found that men have a greater response to caffeine than women; however, another study suggested that this might not always be a good thing. Researchers found that caffeine tended to harm the performance of men in collaborative, stressful situations (such as an office environment), but it improved the performance of women.

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Q:As you age, your sensitivity to caffeine declines. True or False?

A:False. Older adults can be more sensitive to caffeine because it takes their bodies longer to process it.

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Q:Caffeine can aggravate symptoms of anxiety. True or False?

A:True. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, anyone suffering from anxiety disorders should avoid caffeine because it can aggravate symptoms, which include exaggerated worry and tension.

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Q:Caffeine can help you sober up when you're intoxicated. True or False?

A:False. Contrary to popular belief, caffeine has no sobering effects on intoxicated people.

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Q:Caffeinated beverages are dehydrating. True or False?

A:False. Caffeinated beverages do not generally contribute to dehydration. In the short term, caffeine may have a mild diuretic effect in people who do not normally consume caffeine, but this is not the case for those who habitually drink caffeinated beverages. All beverages, including those that contain caffeine, help maintain hydration.

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Q:An overdose of caffeine can kill you. True or False?

A:True. Deaths from caffeine overdose are rare, but do happen. The amount of caffeine considered to be an overdose varies by a person's size, age and gender. In general, doses of greater than 10 grams (about 85 cups of coffee) can be fatal in adults.

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Q:There is a limit to caffeine content in "energy drinks." True or False?

A:False. The FDA limits the caffeine content in soft drinks to 71 mg per 12 oz serving, but there is no limit on the amount of caffeine energy drinks can contain. Several energy drinks have more than 100 mg of caffeine per serving, and some have more than 200 mg.

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