Millions of people all over the world start the day with a cup of coffee, or two, or more. Caffeine is a stimulant, it wakes you up, gets the juices flowing. Some of history’s finest creative minds even attributed their success, in part, to caffeine—J.S. Bach wrote music in praise of coffee, and the French writer Voltaire and the American pianist and composer Oscar Levant drank coffee all day while working.
That’s why it’s important to be aware of the ways—good and bad—that caffeine can affect your health:
- Consuming 200 mg of caffeine per day, about two cups of coffee and about two-thirds the average, is good for long-term memory.
- Three cups of coffee a day may cut the risk of liver cancer by as much as half, and recent studies suggest the same is true of other types of cancer.
- A similar amount has been shown to reduce suicide risk.
- Going up to 400 mg per day is associated with insomnia.
- People with anxiety disorders find them exacerbated by caffeine.
- Caffeine is a diuretic.
- Drinking caffeine helps protect against stroke and Parkinson’s disease.
If that makes you want to give it up entirely, remember that caffeine is a drug, and quitting cold turkey can result in withdrawal symptoms. Headache is probably among the most common, and tiredness resulting from not having that morning cup is made worse by the withdrawal. Symptoms generally last less than a week.