Growing up you believe the world is meant to be the way it is. The older I get the more I realise that this is not the case. The world is full of injustices and atrocities that governments and the voice of faith expect us to accept, though with each passing year they grow fewer and fewer, at least one would hope. I have created this blog as a space for me to rant about all things science, politics, philosophy and religion, before it’s too late and the vessel of new atheism propelled by a growing surge in secularism solves all of the world’s problems for good.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

High caffeine use linked to symptoms of schizophrenia

A recent study carried out by La Trobe University researcher Simon Crowe and his team found that... 
"... high caffeine use, combined with stress, can cause people to exhibit psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions." - article
The study was carried out on 92 undergraduate students who played a song called White Christmas by Bing Crosby and then played static white noise for a similar length of time. Students were then asked to press a button if they heard White Christmas playing while listening to the white noise (the song was not played during this time).

The Team found that individuals who were highly stressed and who were also prone to high usage of caffeine were three times more likely to hear the song playing during the white noise. Mr Crowe stated that what they found...
"... was that people who are highly stressed and who are prone to high-level caffeine use are more likely to report these sorts of phenomena - hearing things that aren't necessarily there as a result of the interaction of those two effects,".
The interesting thing for me is that this study showed that stressed people who had not been diagnosed with schizophrenia were able to show the symptoms of the disease due to the use of caffeine. Mr Crowe also stated that...
"People who have a genetic predisposition to schizophrenia do not always show the disease, but it can be triggered by a number of things, including highly stressful situations." 
"What caffeine does is increase the responsiveness of the system, which is made yet more powerful by [the presence of stress]," 
Other drugs get such a bad wrap with regards to inducing schizophrenia in those who are predisposed, such as cannabis, if used heavily for a prolonged period I might add. So it's ironic that a drug as seemingly common and 'harmless' as caffeine can have effectively the same effects on an individual who has no predisposition for schizophrenia and without prolonged usage. The study seems to suggest that if you're stressed and expose yourself to a high level of caffeine you can induce psychotic symptoms in yourself then and there.

Though the dangers of caffeine are not unknown the drug is suggested to be linked to miscarriages, and death from things such as ulcers, stress and overdose leading to heart attacks. It's calculated that between 1000-10 000 deaths per year in the USA are attributable to caffeine.

But what are we going to do? Take it off the shelves...? HA! Though I wouldn't put it past the conservative politicians and public to rally behind such a proposal... after all we need to be saved from the dangers of freedom! Since when did long life at any cost become the most important goal? Drugs, sex, rock and roll, and just plain good old fun in a short life would kick the crap out of 100 years of biscuits, newspapers and knitting...

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