I cannot recall when, but ever since I was young, I was discouraged to consume coffee. Everyone told me, “Coffee will stunt your growth!” Fast forward to college, I have met people who cannot go a day without their Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts. My question is: Does coffee stunt growth? What are the pros and cons of the popular beverage? Should I cancel my Starbucks card? I decided to investigate this topic, for coffee seems to be a new addiction everyone has in the US.
I decided to google search “Does coffee stunt growth?” To my delight, the first article search I found was a study. In this study, 81 female subjects from the ages 10-19 were tracked for six years. Within those six years, researchers found no difference “bone gain or density than those with the lowest.” (Mary L. Gavin) The groups were given 25mg of caffeine per day to double, (50mg) of caffeine per day. (Mary L. Gavin) I searched for the people who conducted the research, hoping to validate these results. However, all the articles did not have a legitimate source as to where they got this study. All of them cited each other in that there was a study that tested 81 adolescent teens. This experiment could be prone to the Texas Sharpshooter or file drawer problem! Who knows, maybe a coffee company put those results and ignored those that went against its null hypothesis. Yes, the article may claim there is no correlation, but even if the information in the study was valid, there is no evidence that definitively prove coffee does not stunt growth.
What I would do: In order to find out if coffee truly stunts growth, there will need to be a double blind randomized control trial. I would have half my adolescent subjects take a varied amount of caffeine, while the other half take a placebo. After a certain amount and time, I would measure them. I am not saying my experiment is flawless, for it is not. My experiment does not eliminate the factors of confounding variables. What if a kid’s genes is free from the side effects of caffeine? What if there was a certain activity that made them stunt their growth instead? Though sample size is important to eliminate chance and some variables, it cannot cancel all variables. Also, another issue with my intended trial would be ethics. What if in fact caffeine does stunt growth? The subjects in which effected will be permanently impaired of what their height could be. Is my planned trial ethical? Not really…
How I think coffee can stunt your growth: In my first paragraph, I explained how there is no real evidence that supports whether coffee can stunt your growth. In an article I found, it states that “coffee does contain caffeine, which stimulates the central nervous system.” (Owen Bond) It can be mutually agreed upon that caffeine wakes us up. That’s the reason why we drink coffee right? Well, our sleepiness actually is the product of a molecule called adenosine, “which is produced by your body while it chugs along through the day.” (Lauren F Friedman) During rest, there is a decline in concentration of the molecule and during alertness/when we wake up, there is a smaller concentration. Caffeine is extremely similar to the shape of adenosine, so it has the capability of binding to the receptors in your brain. (Lauren F Friedman) With caffeine, a person does not feel the effects of dreariness. What I think is: What if the supposed stunt in growth from coffee was simply due to our lack of sleep? Little to no sleep may mean that our growth hormone is suppressed! I may be completely wrong. What do you guys think?
Should I keep drinking coffee? Aside from the fact that coffee gives an individual alertness to go about their day, there are many benefits that coffee provides. From a domino effect, wakefulness you get from coffee improves brain function. Also, coffee is known to increase metabolic rate and help us run fat. Below are some more benefits I found on the beverage
- Increase in Physical ability/performance
- Vitamins (B2, B5, B3, Maganese, Potassium)
- Decrease in getting diabetes – “In a 2005 review of nine studies, researchers found that for those that drank four to six cups of coffee per day, versus only two or fewer, their risk for Type 2 diabetes decreased by almost 30 percent.” (Samantha) Yes, this is an assumption, but it is note worthy.
In a study published, “Association of Coffee Drinking with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality” the researchers examined about 230000 men and 170000 women from the ages 50-71. Researchers conclude that there is no clear evidence whether coffee causes certain health problems. However, as listed in the study, coffee drinkers were more inclined to smoke. Can it be the smoking, not the caffeine, that is culprit that caused the diseases in which killed the subjects. Certain things that I thought were question worthy were what if old age effected their health problems? In my previous blog, I learned that our immune system takes longer to recover and eventually breaks down over time. Also, for me at least, we put an over excessive amount of sugar in our coffee. Could this have caused heart disease, a disease in which some subjects contracted through the experiment?
Take home message: there is no clear cut evidence that coffee stunts or doesn’t stunt growth. Coffee offers many advantageous effects such as alertness, ability to burn fat, and vitamins, but too much caffeine would cause more adenosine receptors, thus requiring more coffee for us to be alert. Without caffeine, one would feel much more sleepy than they originally were. Once again, everything in moderation is key. For those that will continue to consume, there will be pros and cons (maybe stunt growth, more adenosine receptors). Drink at your own risk!
- (Mary L. Gavin, MD) http://kidshealth.org/teen/expert/nutrition/coffee.html
- (Anahad O’Connor) http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/18/health/the-claim-drinking-coffee-can-stunt-a-childs-growth.html
- (Joseph Stromberg) http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/its-a-myth-theres-no-evidence-that-coffee-stunts-kids-growth-180948068/
- (Neal D. Freedman) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3439152
- (Lauren F Friedman) http://www.businessinsider.com/how-does-coffee-affect-your-brain-2014-8
- (Samantha) http://www.care2.com/greenliving/7-coffee-pros-cons.html
- (Rob M. Dam) http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=201177
- (Owen Bond) http://www.livestrong.com/article/409740-how-caffeine-affects-the-nervous-system/