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Caffeine doesn't reverse the negative cognitive impact of alcohol, study shows
Date:12/7/2009

pected, increased locomotion and reduced anxiety and learning in proportion to the dose given. In other words, intoxicated animals were more relaxed and moved around more but learned significantly less well than control mice to avoid the part of the maze with the unpleasant stimuli.

By itself, caffeine increased anxiety and reduced both learning and locomotion. Compared to the control animals, mice given caffeine were significantly more inhibited, less mobile and less savvy about avoiding the unpleasant stimuli.

When the drugs were given together, ethanol blocked caffeine's ability to make the mice more anxious. Conversely, caffeine did not reverse ethanol's negative effect on learning. As a result, alcohol calmed the caffeine jitters, leaving an animal more relaxed but less able to avoid threats a combination that the authors speculated could make people more likely to believe they are not drunk or not impaired enough to have problems functioning.

"The alcohol-energy drink combinations have skyrocketed in popularity," Gould noted. He cited other evidence that these drinks produce deficits in general cognitive ability and raise the odds of alcohol-related problems such as drunken-driving citations, sexual misconduct, and needing medical assistance.

"The bottom line is that, despite the appeal of being able to stay up all night and drink, all evidence points to serious risks associated with caffeine-alcohol combinations," he concluded.

The Food and Drug Administration is looking into the safety and legality of combination alcohol-caffeine beverages. In November, it sent letters to 30 manufacturers asking for evidence that such drinks are safe and legal under FDA regulations. To date, the FDA has only approved caffeine as an additive in soft drinks at concentrations less than 200 parts per million and has not approved adding caffeine at any level to alcoholic beverages. Under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, a su
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