Archive for October, 2013

Explanation Of English Project 2

My last post was my latest English project for my freshman English class at school.   The point was to take what I observed in my first project and find something to research in a academic paper for my second assignment.  We had to use at least two scholarly articles and anything else we wanted as long as there was a solid paper using his 1:2 rule.  That means he wants two lines of explanation for every line of cited information or quotes.  I don’t think i did very well on that part, I have a lot more scientific information than personal observation or analysis since I think most of the facts I have explain each other.  However, this teacher seemed to want this paper to be mainly observation with the research merely complementing the analysis and personal observations.  That is definitely not what I’m used to.  If I’m writing about myself, it will probably be a paper in the form of my memory in story form or a reflexive free thought paper.  I prefer to write papers on facts where researched facts support research.  I am not at all good at combining the two types.  I also didn’t choose a subculture I’m passionate about since I’m not very passionate about people outside my immediate circle.  It’s hard to combine the two types when I’m more interested in the facts than the people.  Okay, I’m rambling and I need to get to class so I will say adieu and talk to you soon.

Freshman English Project 2

Coffee on Campus: The Addiction of Students

Many years ago in Ethiopia a young goat-herder found his goats dancing at the end of the day.  He did some investigating and found an odd bush with red berries.  He tasted the berries and started dancing too.  He brought the berries to a nearby monastery and the old monk threw them in the fire to be rid of them.  The enticing smell brought the other monks who scrapped the beans out of the fire.  Eventually the beans were crushed and made into a drink.  According to legend, that is how coffee was discovered around 850 AD.  From Africa through Italy to the rest of Europe, the drink evolved into the daily necessity known in coffee shops and homes throughout the continent.  When the Americas were colonized, coffee came with and changed the South American markets for years.  Today coffee is sold and drunk throughout the world and is second only to oil in internationally traded items (Chou 1).  In the U.S. coffee is an integral part of life for most people.  There is no place that the need for coffee is more obvious than on a college campus.   The coffee shops on campus are almost always busy.  Someone is usually in line so a 5 hour shift goes quickly but workers often get frazzled trying to keep up with the demand.

The students themselves drink a lot of cups a day.  I have a friend who says she drinks two to three cups of coffee a day while cramming for tests.  We use the drink to keep us awake during long hours of studying or to stay awake in class the day after a late night study session.  Coffee shops on campus are often meeting places for study groups or individuals who need to study outside their room.  It is also common for coffee shops to be meeting places for students who just need a place to relax around their class schedules.  Students bring their homework or computers and sip a large cup of coffee as they work or relax by themselves or with friends.  I often see study groups meet at a coffee shop, get their drinks, and settle into a large table or go from the coffee house to the library nearby to study or work on their project.  All this coffee drinking leads me to ask one major question: is coffee good for us or is it like alcohol which tastes good, relaxes us, but speeds up the decay of our liver the more we drink?

I enjoy sitting near the coffee shop in our school cafeteria to do my homework between classes.  It is a constant source of white noise as the counter is always busy with people ordering drinks and the noise of drinks being made.  I rarely see the workers take a break since what little time they have between customers is usually spent refilling the containers of coffee, milk, flavorings, and sweeteners that are used throughout the day.  Although the shop is busy throughout the school day, it is busiest in the morning as students come to campus and need that extra boost of caffeine and other chemicals to get them through the morning classes.  The line gets so long at times that it is out the door, which is fifteen or more feet from the counter.  So many students and teachers line up for coffee that I often wonder if there is a physical reason people crave coffee or do we just love the taste and smell of the drink?

According to a study of college students at the University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Timisoara, Romania published in 2013, 58.34% of girls and 20% of boys have over three cups of coffee a week (Smaranda 2).  That means that a lot of the students at that college had a cup of coffee at least once a day for three of the five school days in a week.  That tells me that a lot of students on that campus drinks coffee regularly, not just during the weeks of finals.  Most of us drink more than one cup of coffee or caffeine in teas or sodas a day.  Add to that fact that most of us consider one cup to be whatever size the drink comes in and drinking three cups a week could equate to nine or more servings of coffee a week.  Most students use caffeine in coffee, tea, and sodas to stay awake or sharpen focus to improve learning.   According to the information on WEBMD, a medical website designed to answer medical questions people may not want to ask their doctor, caffeine is primarily used to “improve mental awareness” but is also used to help other pills act, help treat headaches, improve stamina in athletes, and help asthma sufferers breath better for up to four hours.  When put that way, caffeine sounds very beneficial to the health of students at college beyond the most common use keep students awake.

It is too bad that he more caffeine we consume, the more we notice symptoms annoying caused by withdrawal of caffeine when it starts to wears off.  At a certain time we suddenly feel like we lose all our energy.  Some people get headaches, anxiety, and nausea, depending on the amount of caffeine consumed (Chou 5).  What is it that affects us so much?  Caffeine is used in every organ and tissue in the body.  The liver breaks it down in two to twelve hours, usually closer to four to six hours, depending on a person’s metabolism (Chou 4).  When the caffeine is broken down, the focusing effect most of us need wears off, which often feels as if we are suddenly tired and unfocused compared to how we felt moments before.  Many of us then scramble for another dose of caffeine to stay alert.  The problem is that caffeine is a drug that the body builds a tolerance to.  As years pass people need more coffee in the day than they used to need.  Caffeine seems to compete with the chemical adenosine in our body to keep us awake and able to focus (Chou 4).  As caffeine and adenosine compete for our level of focus, our whole body can be affected by falling asleep in class or feeling sluggish when we do not want to.

Many college students start drinking coffee in the end of high school or beginning of college years.  Although most children in America start consuming caffeine much younger in sodas, energy drinks, and chocolate, it seems that coffee and black tea have the strongest concentration of caffeine.  All that caffeine can cause problems.  WEBMD goes on to say that caffeine can cause insomnia, irritability, nervousness, restlessness, and nausea. In another article I found reference to caffeinism, a disorder defined as “a state in which high doses of caffeine acutely manifest as frequent urination, jitteriness, lightheaded, irregular heartbeat and breathing, upset stomach, diarrhea, and heart burn”(Chou 7).  By the time college students get through college, they have not felt the unproven long term effects of coffee drinking such as a lowered risk of Parkinson’s Disease and other types of dementia as well as lowered risk of certain cancers and possible lowered risk of some heart problems (Chou 10).  Even small levels of caffeine can cause or heighten problems sleeping, stress, and anxiety or other nerve disorders.  A caffeine overdose can even kill people although the necessary amount of caffeine needed to kill a person is out of the realm of normal consumption at about 170 milligrams per kilogram of weight.  That translates into about seventy-five cups of coffee, one hundred twenty-five cups of tea, or two hundred cans of soda in a short time period (Chou 7).    Unfortunately that can be cumulative, so a person who regularly drinks a lot of caffeine a day may have heart problems if a huge dose is suddenly added.  Luckily, there is no way to suddenly overdose since the side effects increase in strength as the level of caffeine grows in the blood.  If a person can notice the side effects, such as vomiting, it is a good hint that their body does not want more caffeine.

The general assumption is that caffeine is the most active ingredient in coffee, although Tony Chou, M.D., a Medical Chief Resident of the University of California, San Francisco, claims that there are hundreds of chemicals identified in coffee (Chou 2).  Studies over the years have proven that ingredients other than caffeine in coffee may be harmful in the long term.  Although these studies are hard to reproduce, they indicate that there may be a relation between having more than six cups of coffee a daily on a regular basis and an increased risk of some types of cancer and heart problems.  These studies have proven that coffee is the possible problem, not caffeine since tea did not achieve the same effects in the study.  The studies that prove a possible relation between heavy coffee drinking and cancer or heart problems have been hard to reproduce since heavy coffee drinkers also tend to be smokers, to drink alcohol, and exhibit other lifestyle dangers that are hard to remove from a long term study done under ethical codes(Chou 10). 

With all of those possible risks, is it healthy for college students to drink the coffee that helps them stay awake longer?  Many graduates say they would never have gotten through college without the use of coffee.  I see coffee everywhere on campus as students carry it to class or grab their favorite drink on their way to their intended study nook.   While I may wonder at the safety of such a huge part of students’ lives, I will have to continue to wonder.  There is evidence that heavy coffee consumption may be hazardous to health in the long-term, but there is not yet any proof.  There are always more studies being done but it will be a long time until there is definite proof of a danger from coffee.  The current studies seem to prove that a daily consumption of two or three cups of coffee is safe.  The majority of students only drink that much regularly around finals time.  The trick is to remember that by “cup” I mean an eight or nine ounce cup, not a thirty-two ounce large size from the coffee shop.

Works Cited

Chou, Tony. “Wake up and smell the coffee: caffeine, coffee, and the medical consequences.” The Western Journal of Medicine Nov. 1992: 544+. Academic OneFile. Web. 9 Oct. 2013.

Smaranda, Laura Goţia; Rodica Goţia  Smaranda; and Camelia Gurban. “Nutrition, coffee, alcohol consumption in students’ life style” Palestrica of the Third Millennium Civilization & Sport.  Vol. 14 Issue 1, p7-11.  (2013) Acedemic Search Complete.  Web.  9 Oct 2013.

Shields, Deborah H.; Kattia M. Corrales; Elizabeth Metallinos-Katsaras. “Gourmet coffee beverage consumption among college women”.   Journal of the American Dietetic Association. Apr 2004, Vol. 104 Issue 4, p650-653. Web. 9 Oct 2013

“Caffeine” WEBMD, WEBMD LLC. n.d. Web. 15 Oct. 2013