Health Effects of Caffeine

The US National Coffee Association reports that 83% of Americans regularly drink coffee, with the number rising every year. Overconsumption can take its toll, but some new studies propose that the stimulant may not be so bad for the skin and body, after all.

Why Caffeine?

Coffee is a favorite drink among adults largely thanks its flavor, but also because of its high caffeine content, which helps combat sleepiness, improves focus, and keeps us alert. On the one hand, this may seem a quick fix to a late night out, but it does cause an almost 50% increase in the stress response in the body. Also, drinking coffee late in the day may affect our sleep. Less sleep means more exhaustion and more stress, so it becomes a viscous circle. Stress can also exacerbate skin conditions like acne, because stress hormones (e.g. cortisol) can stimulate the amount of oil produced by the sebaceous glands.

Fact or Fiction?

  1. Coffee prevents skin cancer

A 2015 study found that, thanks to the potent antioxidant properties of caffeine, people who drank four or more cups of coffee a day have a 20% lower risk of developing a malignant melanoma than people who drink less. The monumental study, conducted by the renowned US National Cancer Institute Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, surveyed over 400,000 adults aged 50-71 for about 10 years. More research is required and this doesn’t mean coffee addicts don’t need to wear sun protection!

  1. Caffeine smooths wrinkles

Unfortunately, several cups of tea or coffee through the day will not reduce the presence of lines in your skin. There is no evidence that caffeine consumption can improve the skin or counter aging signs. However, some skin products that contain caffeine may prevent wrinkles from developing, due to their strong antioxidant properties. These properties also guard the skin from UV damage, thus slowing the aging process triggered by sun exposure – but they won’t smooth lines that already exist.

  1. Caffeine reduces dark circles/ bags under the eyes

Caffeine-infused eye creams can give the eyes a bit of a perk, but these results are not permanent. If you are using such an eye cream, you’ll need to apply it daily to achieve the desired results. How does it work? Caffeine is anti-inflammatory, vasoconstrictive and soothing, so it can reduce puffiness and redness. By calming the skin and contracting blood vessels, caffeine can decrease under-eye bags in the short term. Caffeine may also awaken tired eyes and reduce dark circles by helping the microcirculation of the blood through the skin, but again, only for a while.

The bottom line

Everyone reacts to caffeine and coffee differently. If you have a skin condition like acne, or have concerns about its effects, or even want to see for yourself if the claims above are true, try cutting out coffee for a few weeks and see if your skin improves. At least you don’t have to feel quite so guilty before stopping at a coffee shop for your next latté.

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