Caffeine: a silent addiction it's better to break?

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Coffee: to quit or not to quit?
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In a podcast produced by The Guardian, writer Michael Pollan explores the effects of caffeine on the metabolism and the effects of withdrawing from it. Entitled "The Invisible Addiction," it shows that our morning 'cuppa' may not be entirely harmless... To quit or not to quit?

Should we be wary of coffee? Possibly, according to Michael Pollan's investigation. In a podcast produced for British media outlet The Guardian, the journalist wanted to explore his relationship with caffeine. His sleep disorders and irritability had made him begin to look side-eyed at his coffee addiction.

So he decided to follow in the footsteps of Roland Griffiths, one of the world's leading researchers in the field of psychotropic drugs. The scientist had conducted a series of experiments on himself before ultimately quitting. Following his research, caffeine withdrawal was included in the 'Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders' (DSM-5), considered the Bible of psychiatric diagnoses.

Recently, scientists have been more than reassuring, even positive, about the beverage. Many studies suggest that regular consumption of coffee reduces the risk of breast, prostate, or colon cancer, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and Parkinson's disease. The drink may even have a positive effect on dementia and perhaps on depression and suicide (data that are reversed once you exceed eight cups per day). Far from being an enemy, coffee is sometimes considered an ally for our health.

Drink less coffee and live longer
Not everyone agrees. Some English neuroscientists are worried. Lately, faculty members at the University of California, Berkeley, are warning about the effects of caffeine on sleep. According to them, we sleep less and less well when we drink coffee. This invisible danger comes at a price. The author of "Why We Sleep," Dr. Matthew Walker, even suggests that sleep deprivation may be a key factor in Alzheimer's disease, arteriosclerosis, stroke, heart failure, depression, anxiety, suicide, and obesity.

Coffee alone is not responsible for the sleep crisis we are experiencing. Screens, alcohol, pollution, and anxiety also have their role to play. Coffee, responsible for a loss of sleep, is also the remedy of many to compensate for bad sleep. In this pretty vicious circle, it is difficult to give up your comforting cup of coffee in the morning, knowing that it is because of it that you have difficulty getting out of bed in the morning.

Should you stop drinking coffee altogether? As is so often the case, the remedy may lie in the dose.

Mylène Bertaux

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