A team of scientists has just discovered that physiological reactions to one of our most popular drugs–caffeine–differs between men and women. More precisely, it differs between male and female adolescents aged 15 to 17. The study included 54 boys, 47 girls and 52 children who had not yet reached puberty.
The placebo-controlled study used lemon-lime flavored soda, lemonade or orange juice to deliver either 1 or 2 mg/kg of caffeine, based on the youngsters’ body weight. As caffeine levels rose, young men had greater increases in blood pressure and decreases in heart rate. Young women did not have the same response, except in the last phase of their menstrual cycles. There were no gender differences in the caffeine response among the younger children.
Although energy drinks are very popular with teens and young adults, these beverages frequently have higher levels of caffeine than ordinary soft drinks. The People’s Pharmacy perspective on this research would restrict highly caffeinated beverages to special-occasion use among adolescents. We doubt that would be popular, but perhaps young men would be interested in doing research on themselves and seeing how much caffeine raises their blood pressure.