People who drink too much coffee are at risk of caffeine psychosis, according to a new report. It found that too much caffeine can lead to marked changes in personality and make drinkers more aggressive, anxious and temperamental.
"Caffeinism" puts sufferers at further risk of anxiety neurosis, irregular heart beats, insomnia, muscle twitches, and nervous irritability.
The warning comes a week after Tony Blair suffered an irregular heart beat, which he reportedly blamed on too much strong continental coffee at the European Union summit in Brussels. The supraventricular tachycardia, or SVT, that he suffered can be triggered by caffeine.
In the new report, on the potential effects of caffeine on police hostage negotiators, Professor Wayman Mullins of Southwest Texas State University warns: "Tachycardia could be anxiety-producing and lead to the negotiator's stress level rising to abnormal levels,'' he says in the Journal of Police Crisis Negotiations. "The negotiator would likely become overly anxious, nervous, frightened, and concentrate on what was occurring physiologically and not on the hostage-taker."
Caffeine has also been linked to other health problems: other research has blamed too much coffee with the increased risk of rheumatoid arthritis,miscarriages and epilepsy. Research also shows that drinking four or five cups of coffee a day makes the body behave as if it is under constant stress by increasing the levels of stress hormones. That can raise blood pressure, with a risk of long-term heart disease.
But it is not all bad news for coffee lovers. Researchers have shown that drinking two to four cups a day can lower the risk of colon cancer, gallstones, cirrhosis of the liver and Parkinson's disease. It can also increase male fertility.