You know that feeling when you wake up on Monday and the world is dark and gloomy and you just want to crawl back in bed? But then you smell a pot of coffee brewing in the kitchen (thank goodness for auto brew) and suddenly there's hope. By the time you're two cups in, life seems cheery again.
Scientists at Harvard have found that might not just be because you, like us, are probably severely addicted to caffeine. Their recent research has shown that the suicide risk for people who drink two to four cups of coffee per day is about 50 percent less than the risk for those who don't.
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According to a study by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health, caffeine acts as a mild antidepressant in the brain, "enhancing the production of certain neurotransmitters in the brain that include serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline."
The study included 43,599 men and 164,825 women over four years and monitored not only their intake of coffee, but of all caffeinated drinks. Researchers found, however, that coffee accounted for nearly 80 percent of the group's total coffee intake. During the study, nearly 277 deaths occurred within the subject group by suicide.
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But the study also points out that moderation is important since there isn't much noticeable difference between those who drink two or three cups a day and those who drink four or more. In other words, sizing up from a grande to a venti probably isn't going to pull you out of severe depression.
"This is because most individuals adjust their caffeine intake to an optimal level for them and an increase could result in unpleasant side effects. Overall, our results suggest that there is little further benefit for consumption above two to three cups/day or 400 mg of caffeine/day," the study states.
And if this news still isn't enough to leave you guiltless about that four dollar latte, last year alone research connected coffee to delayed Alzheimer's onset, lowered risk of heart failure and reduced risk of the most common type of skin cancer.