Coffee, tea, cola, weight loss aids and stimulant drinks.
Caffeine and the law
There are no legal restrictions on the sale or use of products containing caffeine. However, certain medicines which contain caffeine may only be available through a doctor's prescription.
What is Caffeine?
Caffeine is a drug which is present in many popular drinks, weight loss aids, cold remedies and some chocolates. An average cup of tea normally contains 40mg of caffeine, but if the tea is left to brew longer this increases. Coffee contains more caffeine per cup with instant coffee containing around 60 mg.
What are the effects?
Caffeine is an 'upper' and helps to combat tiredness; it increases concentration and makes people feel more alert and awake. As a stimulant caffeine increases the heart rate and blood pressure and many people use drinks containing caffeine to get them going in a morning.
Caffeine makes people urinate more and high doses may result in people experiencing headaches and feeling irritable.
What are the risks?
People can become dependent on caffeine and may experience withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, feelings of tiredness and anxiety. Mental confusion and depression can also result form the use of caffeine. The stomach and bladder are irritated by caffeine and it raises stress hormone levels in the blood. Caffeine should be avoided before and during pregnancy as it can damage the developing embryo.
Some reports suggest that the long term use of caffeine can result in higher incidences of asthma, peptic ulcers, kidney, bladder, heart disease and blood pressure problems.
Large amounts of caffeine consumed by young children in chocolate and soft drinks may lead to hyperactivity. The amount of caffeine found in one can of cola is the equivalent as an adult drinking four cups of coffee.
Is it addictive?
People who drink more than 8 cups of normal strength tea or coffee a day are usually dependent and they may find themselves experiencing withdrawal symptoms such as headaches or anxiety if they try to stop drinking it.
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