Coffee drinking and caffeine use can cause caffeine-induced nerve damage.
That’s the conclusion of a new study published online today in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.
Researchers found that drinking coffee before a stressful situation led to a significantly higher risk of nerve damage than drinking coffee after the stressor.
Coffee drinking was associated with a significant increase in the number of nerve cells in the brain’s hippocampus, a region involved in memory and cognition.
This increase was particularly significant in those who drank more coffee and those who had experienced stress.
Coffee drinkers also had significantly increased levels of an enzyme called acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that’s involved in learning and memory.
The authors attribute this increased acetylscylcholine levels to coffee drinking, as well as to the fact that coffee drinkers tended to be older.
Drinking coffee before stressful situations may be associated with lower levels of acetylsalicylic acid, a chemical compound that’s a precursor to acetylglucosamine, another chemical compound involved in neuronal activity.
In contrast, drinking coffee during stressors had no effect on acetylmethionine, a substance that helps to restore acetylated glutathione, the body’s primary antioxidant.
Caffeinated beverages may also be linked to other side effects, including nausea, headaches and insomnia.
The findings could have implications for how caffeine can affect people who suffer from mental health problems, and the research also provides insight into the relationship between caffeine and other common health conditions, such as hypertension.
Citing the findings, the authors say the study could lead to a better understanding of the role of coffee in brain health and how it can impact other mental health conditions.