Reconsidering Caffeine: An Awake and Alert New Look at America's Most Commonly Consumed Drug
Mrazik, David M.
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CitationReconsidering Caffeine: An Awake and Alert New Look at America's Most Commonly Consumed Drug (2004 Third Year Paper)
AbstractCaffeine is one of the most pervasively ingested addictive substances in the United States, yet astoundingly little attention is paid to its ubiquitous presence. This Paper examines caffeine, the substance, from many perspectives. First, it discusses caffeine with particular regard to its chemical properties; its presence in foods, beverages, and medications both naturally and as an additive; and its known impacts on human biological and psychological functioning. Relevant medical investigations of caffeineâ€™s therapeutic properties and its toxicology are included in order to better evaluate the benefits, the risks, and the relative safety of prolonged caffeine consumption. In light of more recent medical findings, the Paper finds that caffeine poses fewer serious health risks than previously thought, and the potential for damage to the vast majority of the consumer public is minimal. The Paper also addresses issues of FDA regulation of caffeine, including a discussion of current regulation and classification of the substance both as a food product and as a drug product, as well as questioning the usefulness of greater consumer warning labels and promotion of improved public awareness of caffeineâ€™s various health effects. Due to both the paucity of long-term caffeine health studies and the conflicts among those studies, the Paper contends that heightened FDA regulatory scrutiny of American caffeine consumption is an unnecessary expenditure of limited resources. The Paper finds caffeine poses no material danger to the consumer, and dismisses the claims of prior authors to that effect as generally overstated. Finally, the Paper poses a hypothetical analysis of caffeine as both a new food additive and a new drug, in order to illustrate the FDAâ€™s modern regulatory process and demonstrate greater confidence in the safety of consumer caffeine use.
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