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Thursday, 3 June 2010

Drinking coffee doesn't make you more alert, caffeine study reveals

Coffee drinkers may think they're getting a caffeine boost, but they're no more alert than people who never drink the stuff.

The millions of people who depend on a shot of coffee to kickstart their day are no more alert than those who are not regular coffee drinkers, say researchers.

A cup of coffee, suggests a study, only counteracts the effects of caffeine withdrawal that has built up overnight.

"Someone who consumes caffeine regularly when they're at work but not at weekends runs the risk of feeling a bit rubbish by Sunday," said Peter Rogers, who led the research at Bristol University. "It's better to stick with it or keep off it altogether."

Infrequent coffee drinkers who reach for an emergency hit fare no better, experiencing heightened feelings of anxiety - and withdrawal symptoms the next day.

The research is significant because previous studies into the effects of caffeine have involved far fewer participants.

"It's an interesting piece of evidence, and a very ambitious study," said Lorenzo Stafford, a psychologist at the University of Portsmouth. "Getting the DNA samples of so many participants is a huge effort."

The study was published today in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.

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