In a new study from the University of South Australia, researchers found that excess caffeine may be linked to an increased risk of bone disease osteoporosis.
The team examined the effects of coffee on how the kidneys regulate calcium in the body, and they found that high doses of caffeine (800 mg) consumed over a six-hour period almost doubled the amount of calcium lost in the urine.
They say with the emergence of an increasing ‘coffee culture’ it’s important for people to understand the impacts of what they are putting into their bodies.
Osteoporosis is a chronic, painful, and debilitating disease which makes your bones less dense and more susceptible to fracture.
More common in women, it occurs when bones lose calcium and other minerals faster than the body can replace them.
Caffeine is one of the most widely used recreational drugs in the world, with 80% of adults consuming at least one caffeinated beverage per day.
It’s a common stimulant, consumed by professionals, parents, shift workers, and teenagers alike to start their day and stay alert – even the military uses caffeine to help combat sleepiness.
But while coffee has its perks, it’s also important to acknowledge its fallbacks – one of them being how the kidneys handle calcium.
The current research found that people who consume 800 mg of caffeine over a typical working day will have a 77% increase in calcium in their urine, creating a potential deficiency that could impact their bones.
The team says understanding the long-term impacts of high caffeine consumption is especially important for higher-risk groups.
The average daily intake of caffeine is about 200 mg – roughly two cups of coffee. While drinking eight cups of coffee may seem a lot (800 mg of caffeine), there are groups who would fall into this category.
People at risk could include teenagers who binge-consume energy drinks are at risk because their bones are still developing; professional athletes who use caffeine for performance enhancement; as well as post-menopausal women who often have low blood calcium levels due to hormonal changes and lack sufficient daily dietary calcium intake.
Increasingly, doctors are also seeing high levels of caffeine among shift workers who need to stay alert over the nighttime hours, as well as those in the military who use caffeine to combat sleep deprivation in operational settings.
Caffeine in moderation certainly has its pros. But understanding how excess consumption could increase the risks of highly preventable diseases such as osteoporosis, is important.
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The study is published in Br J Clin Pharmacol. One author of the study is Dr Hayley Schultz.
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