Dec 112005
Authors: Cari Merrill

As final exams begin today, many students will reach for coffee to stay alert while studying.

The popular drink for late-night caffeine boosts has been plagued by suspected negative side effects. But Joe Vinson, chemistry professor at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania , recently conducted a study that found the brown concoction has significant health benefits.

The main benefit is the reduction in the risk of type II diabetes in addition to lowering a person's risk of liver and colon cancers. According to a press release, more than 100 different kinds of food were tested during the study including fruits, vegetables and other common beverages.

Based on consumption levels, the brown brew topped the list as being the richest in the antioxidants that are credited for the health benefits.

Josiah Washburn , sophomore criminology major, has type I diabetes. With type I, Washburn's pancreas fails to produce insulin, leaving him solely dependant on insulin injections.

Type II diabetes is when the pancreas produces insulin but not a sufficient amount for the body, Washburn said. This type can be controlled if the person eats a special diet but Washburn said type II could lead to the more serious type I diabetes. For that reason, he would drink more coffee if he had type II diabetes.

"Anything you can do is just another way to slow (diabetes) down," Washburn said.

As well as drinking coffee for the antioxidants, the caffeine has the potential to aid in studying and taking exams.

Vinson said caffeine is beneficial when studying the night before or the day of an exam. Caffeine actually improves short-term memory and leads to better functioning while taking a test.

"Caffeine has it's own unique benefit," Vinson said. "The best advice I give my students before they come to a test is to get food. They need glucose."

But not all students favor coffee as a source for caffeine.

Washburn and many other students drink diet soda to sustain caffeine levels. But Vinson cautions that all forms of caffeine are not as healthy as coffee.

"Soft drinks have negative health benefits because they don't have the protein and the caffeine," Vinson said. "The best source of caffeine overall would not be a soda but tea or coffee."

But while some students pump coffee through their systems in preparation for studying, the manager of one local coffee shop doesn't report seeing an increase in sales as finals near.

"The only increase is with the cold weather," said Ben Scarbrough , manager of Sweet Sinsations in the Lory Student Center.

But with all things in life students need to remember: "everything in moderation."

"The idea is not to drink two to three cups at a time but spread it out. You need a multi-dose during the day to keep maximum cognition levels," Vinson said. "You need a variety for maximum health. It's not 'double your intake, double your absorption.'"

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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