Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Alcohol/Caffeine Debate Continues...

RIP Sparks...

This morning there is coverage of a study by Dr Thomas Gould of Temple University that discusses a study of mice who are given ethanol or ethanol and caffeine. The result of the study (not surprisingly) is that Caffeine does not sober you up - you remain drunk. The more interesting finding is that caffeine still boosts your alertness but the alcohol reduces your ability to learn and inhibitions.

Dr Gould's inference is that "the co-use of caffeine and alcohol could actually lead to poor decisions with disastrous outcomes", "people who have consumed both alcohol and caffeine may feel awake and competent enough to handle potentially harmful situations, such as driving while intoxicated or placing themselves in dangerous social situations".

The evidence for this was that it appears in the mice who are given both alcohol and caffeine "ethanol blocked caffeine's ability to make the mice more anxious. Conversely, caffeine did not reverse ethanol's negative effect on learning. As a result, alcohol calmed the caffeine jitters, leaving an animal more relaxed but less able to avoid threats."

This is the first time I have seen some real evidence against caffeine + alcohol.

In effect the argument is that if people behave like mice, they will make more poor decisions. They are more likely to drive while drunk, that "sexual misconduct" may a problem (or more likely that the "beer goggles" effect gets worse). And finally - "needing "medical assistance" (maybe because people will drink more because of the caffeine).

So what do we do? Is this enough evidence to restrict caffeine/alcohol products? Should bars stop selling Vodka/Red Bull? Irish Coffee? Rum and Coke? Or just selling coffee, or Coke.

Ultimately, as with any functional product, I think this becomes a personal responsibility issue. I think that there would need to be greater availability of information the combination of caffeine/alcohol, but enforcing the restriction of its use will be almost impossible.

And back to the first question, should the FDA ban caffeine/alcohol products? I am still in the camp of allowing them. Frankly it does not matter since those consumers wanting the combination will create their own.

1 comment:

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