Can Nurses Function Without Coffee? New Study Suggests You Can Relax and Enjoy Your Cup of (Filtered) Joe

Can Nurses Function Without Coffee? New Study Suggests You Can Relax and Enjoy Your Cup of (Filtered) Joe

Nurses and doctors have long been famous (or notorious) for their coffee consumption . Is that an ironic indulgence in an unhealthy habit? Should we be comparing today’s coffee-dependent health professionals to their 1950s predecessors, who interviewed patients amid a haze of cigarette smoke?

Well, a new study in the New England Journal of Medicine doesn’t address the effect on your pearly whites, but it does suggest that your favorite brew may be one of the safer performance-enhancing drugs (and confirmation bias makes all of us want to believe this). The study also cites research indicating that daily caffeine intake has various health benefits: “Consumption of 2 to 5 standard cups of coffee per day has been associated with reduced mortality in cohort studies across the world,” the authors remark.

Other Benefits

  • In addition to increasing your alertness and response time, a sip from the fragrant cup can also help keep depression at bay and reduce suicidal impulses (worth noting at a time when so many nurses are struggling to cope with their pandemic experiences).
  • Caffeine can reduce susceptibility to Parkinson’s Disease.
  • While you know that in a pinch, caffeine is a great natural bronchodilator for asthma and COPD patients, there is evidence that it adds a little boost to overall lung function as well.
  • Like any stimulant, caffeine does reduce appetite, slightly speeds your metabolism, and may help you control your diet better.

Coffee Caveats

The way you like your coffee brewed can counteract some of those positives. Are you a fan of high-end or exotic brews? Take note that unfiltered coffee has a much higher concentration of the cholesterol-raising compound cafestol. The levels are highest in “French press, Turkish, or Scandinavian boiled coffee; intermediate in espresso and coffee made in a Moka pot; and negligible in dripfiltered, instant, and percolator coffee.” (Instant coffee?)

And yes: coffee drinking can still lead to stained dental work and damaged tooth enamel (and decay, if you use sugar). And coffee breath. Some dentists hopelessly suggest noshing a celery or carrot stick after a cup, but definitely make friends with an electric or battery-operated toothbrush.

Caffeine Withdrawal: daily coffee drinkers build tolerance to the effects of caffeine and become dependent on their java jolts. Deprived of their joe, caffeine addicts can suffer headaches, depression, fatigue (of course), and even mild flu symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms tend to peak during the first 48 hours, but it can take over a week to get acclimated to your newly decaffeinated brain.

One area the study does not explore in depth is the health effects of frappucino quaffing, but it is possible that the researchers are coffee “purists” who look on the frappucino as an evolutionary dead end that does not qualify as Proper Coffee.

You can read more in this New York Times article, or check out the actual study at the NEJM.