More Coffee=Less Pain

Caffeine Consumption May Alter Nociceptive Pain Processing, Research Suggests

National Coffee Day will be observed tomorrow, September 29, and findings from a recent study led by PAINWeek faculty member Burel Goodin, PhD, Director of the Biobehavioral Pain Research Laboratory at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, offers some timely evidence of the possible benefits accruing from coffee consumption. Noting that US caffeine consumption averages 165 mg/day and that it is “the most widely consumed psychoactive substance in the world,” Dr. Goodin and associates investigated the relationship between caffeine intake and pain sensitivity. Their conclusion: “Results of this study completed with community-dwelling adults revealed that individuals who habitually consume greater amounts of caffeine as part of their daily diets demonstrate diminished sensitivity to painful stimuli in a laboratory setting.” The findings were published in the journal Psychopharmacology.

The investigation studied 62 participants aged 19 to 77 years, who were asked to record their caffeine consumption for 7 days. Average consumption was recorded at 170.8 mg/day, with a peak consumption noted of 643.6 mg/day. Following the recording period, subjects underwent tests using pressure and heat to measure how long this pain was tolerated before signaling for an end to the test. The researchers found that “greater self-reported daily caffeine consumption was significantly associated with higher heat pain threshold, higher heat pain tolerance and higher pressure-pain threshold.” The results offer “…novel evidence suggesting that greater levels of habitual dietary caffeine consumption may alter the nociceptive [related to the body’s primary pain receptors] processing of pain signals,” the authors continued.

Read about the study conclusions.

The study abstract may be read here.

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