Science Interviews


Fri, 5th Feb 2016

The history of the hot stuff

Graihagh Jackson, Naked Scientist

Listen Now    Download as mp3 from the show Caffeine: Friend or Foe?

The stimulant is never far from the headlines but there doesnít seem to be a goatconsistent consensus about as to whether itís good or bad for our health, especially when you delve into the headlines, as Graihagh Jackson explained to Chris Smith...

Graihagh -  I was looking through some for the newspaper archives and I can see why thereís so much confusion about it. Iím going to read you a select few of my favourites:

So in the 1500s when coffee was around in Turkey, the headline reads ďnot enough grounds were grounds for divorce.Ē  Coffee was so important that women could divorce their husbands because they didnít have enough coffee

Chris - So coffee deprivation would be grounds for divorce?

Graihagh - Yes.  So coffee was a good thing back thenÖ 1600s - it becomes a bad thing.  It can cure alcoholism actually but it causes impotence.  Thereís a great quote from a group of women who started a petition saying ďWe find of late a very sensible decay of that true old english vigour.  Never did men wear greater breeches or carry less in themĒ...

Chris - And thatís when they had or hadn't had their morning coffee?

Graihagh -   Thatís when they had had their morning coffee.

1700s - you start getting coffee being good for you.  It makes you work longer.

1800s - coffee makes you go blind.

1900s - caffeine is in the news and itís all bad again.

There were some studies done in the 1980s with patients having more risk of heart attacks.

And in the 2000s - it's back and forth all over the place but the stuff Iíve been reading tends to suggest itís actually a bit of a health food.

So, now I know that, Iím not surprised people have no idea whether itís good or bad for us because after all this, I havenít the foggiest


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