There's a joke that scientists are devices for turning coffee into results, and being scientists, they've taken it literally. The following studies show how caffeine makes you a better person, and we're not talking Lifetime channel hand-holding "better person." We're talking faster stronger smarter less likely to die better.
Upgrading Navy SEALs
Scientists decided to see what happens when you subject 68 Navy SEAL trainees to secret drug doses, nonstop stress and three days of sleep deprivation. That's not the sort of experiment that creates Captain America; it's the sort he has to clean up after.
And he has better things to do.
The U.S. Army's Military Nutrition Division, the most badass caterers of all time, took advantage of "Hell Week." That's where the SEALs force as many wannabes as possible to fail, and are so good at it that 22 of the study's 90 volunteers had quit before the scientists even got there. All subjects were "volunteers," but we're fairly sure that saying you're too scared to ingest coffee automatically fails you from SEAL training.
U.S. Army photostream via Flickr
"Pop smoke, they've got a Starbucks! Repeat, we are under heavy grande and need evac!"
After three days of sleep deprivation and constant torture by both superior officers and the sea itself, trainees were given caffeine and tested on marksmanship, cognitive ability, vigilance and saliva. The scientists claimed they were checking the saliva for caffeine levels, but it's more likely a test for insane, drooling, hyperaccelerated crack-shot madmen. At which point they deploy Dolph Lundgren.
They found that 200 milligrams of caffeine significantly improves vigilance, alertness and reaction time, even after half a week awake. These guys are extremely serious about getting things done. Their conclusion recommends caffeine over amphetamines because it's legally and medically easier to give to people. It's also motivating for regular people: If coffee can help Navy goddamn SEALs stay awake for 72 hours of torture, that morning coffee better not just wake you up -- you'd better karate chop through your desk and do a day's work before lunch. Standing. Violently.
"WHERE IS YOUR TPS REPORT?"
Coffee vs. Cancer
Possibly on the grounds that caffeine can do anything, scientists organized a death match between store-bought coffee and human cancer cells. And coffee can't die. This wasn't some advanced caffeine extract irradiated with science rays -- they walked out of the hospital lab, bought four different coffees in the lobby and poured their very-probably-venti liquid into their experiments instead of into themselves. And coffee is so awesome, it's useful in both places.
Though we usually prefer medical researchers not to use a kid's "Pour this in and see what happens" approach.
It exhibited antiproliferative effects on cancer cells, preventing them from multiplying, and multiplying is cancer's entire deal. Even at dilutions of 1:70, the coffee inhibited cancer cell activity. Flow cytometry analysis -- the cellular equivalent of instant replay -- showed that the coffee even made some of the cancer cells kill themselves. That's a level of psychological combat you don't normally see at the cellular level.
"You're fat, you're ugly and, trust us, absolutely no one loves you."
Other studies have shown that caffeine also increases the effectiveness of radiation therapy and tumoricidal drugs. It really helps everything work harder, even gamma rays, and their job is a hell of a lot more important than yours.