Drinking Coffee May Cut Suicide Risk in Half
4:15 pm, July 26th | by Colette McIntyre
Science, you are just like my high school crush in that you simply cannot make up your mind and keep sending me mixed signals. (Also, you still haven’t answered that text I sent you the other night, which was a joke, by the way. I was just joking. I don’t actually like you like that, lol…lol.) Last month you decided to include caffeine withdrawal and caffeine intoxication in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DMS-5 and that really shook us up. We thought Science classifying something as a mental disorder qualified as “shit getting real,” so we drastically cut back on our coffee intake. Now a study by the Harvard School of Public Health has concluded that drinking two to four cups of coffee per day may reduce the risk of suicide in men and women by 50 percent. So if we drink coffee, we’re disordered, but if we don’t drink enough, we may become suicidal? What’s up with that, Science?!
The study, which was published in The World Journal of Biological Psychiatry, reviewed data from three large U.S studies that followed groups of volunteers for ten years. The subjects included 435,999 male and 164,825 female health professionals. Every four years, participants were asked to fill out a questionnaire that measured their intake of coffee, caffeinated beverages and decaffeinated coffee. Coffee was the main caffeine source for at least 70 percent of respondents.
The authors found that the volunteers who drank two to four cups of caffeinated coffee a day were half as likely to commit suicide as those who drank decaffeinated coffee or very little or no coffee. Caffeine acts as a mild antidepressant by boosting several neurotransmitter levels in the brain, including serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline — chemicals that are associated with a sense of well-being. Researchers posited that this reaction could explain the lower incidences of severe depression among coffee drinkers found in previous studies.
“Unlike previous investigations, we were able to assess association of consumption of caffeinated and non-caffeinated beverages, and we identify caffeine as the most likely candidate of any putative protective effect of coffee,” said Michel Lucas, lead researcher and research fellow in the Department of Nutrition at HSPH.
Lucas and his fellow researchers were careful to warn that people who are suffering from depression shouldn’t use coffee as a substitute for professional help. Most people should find their optimal daily dosage on their own and stick to it.