Caffeine, Alcohol Addictions Could Be Linked

In study, coffee lovers with family history of alcoholism found it hardest to quit java

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FRIDAY, Dec. 2, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- A serious caffeine habit coupled with a family history of alcohol abuse marks those women who will have the toughest time abstaining from coffee during pregnancy, a new study shows.

Studies have associated heavy caffeine use during pregnancy with a number of problems, including reduced fetal growth and miscarriage.

This new research also suggests that caffeine and alcoholic addiction may have similar neurological roots.

"This study helps to validate the diagnosis of caffeine dependence as a clinically significant phenomenon. It's one thing to speculate how powerful the dependence is, but here we have an example of people who are not following physician recommendations and are unable to quit caffeine in spite of wanting to do so," study co-lead author Roland R. Griffiths, professor in the departments of psychiatry and neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, said in a prepared statement.

His team studied 44 pregnant women who sought prenatal care. Half the women who had both a lifetime history of caffeine dependence and a family history of alcoholism ignored doctors' recommendations to stop using caffeine and consumed more caffeine than is considered safe during pregnancy.

None of the women had been treated for alcohol problems or had a current alcohol-use diagnosis, the researchers noted.

Women without these dual risk factors did find it easy to abstain from caffeine during pregnancy, according to the study, which appears in the December issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.

"Results of this study suggest that genetic vulnerability reflected in a family history of alcoholism may also be at the root of the inability to stop caffeine use," Griffiths said.

More information

The March of Dimes has more about caffeine and pregnancy.

SOURCE: Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, news release, Dec. 2, 2005

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