7 Scientific Ways Coffee Gives You Super Powers

Neuroprotective Effects

Caffeine doesn't improve your day -- it improves you, by altering your brain's chemistry. Adenosine agonizes brain receptors, which really doesn't sound like something that would make you sleepy, but is. It's released as you think, and the more of it you have sloshing around your skull, the higher the voltage required to fire neurons. It electrically gets harder to think until you have to switch off and sleep. Caffeine antagonizes these receptors. It has a similar enough shape to connect with them, blocking adenosine, but not similar enough to make them change the voltage. It's the good opposite of that asshole blocking seats on the train with his bag. Suppressing adenosine allows the brain to enjoy more dopamine effects, which are basically all the good ones. You're awake, alert, intelligent and motivated. Coffee is great!

It's like smart in a mug!

And the more you use it, the longer your brain will work. Long-term caffeine use has been found to reduce the risk of brain damage, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, epileptic seizures and even stroke. A 10-year study of over 130,000 people found that the more coffee men drank, the safer they were against Parkinson's. Another showed that just one cup a day cuts the risk in half. Women also benefit, but caffeine is apparently a bit Victorian and advises ladies to enjoy in moderation. A few cups daily cut the risk to about 55 percent, but unwomanly excess increases the risk again.

"Honestly, baby, I'm saving your brain by making you stay half-naked in the kitchen."

The most kickass curative effect is how low doses of "caffeinol" are highly neuroprotective. Caffeinol is equivalent to three cups of strong coffee and one cocktail. That's not us simplifying the amounts for you -- that's exactly how the scientists defined the ratio. When a research paper gives mixing instructions, it's not just a treatment, it's a party. They brilliantly recommend that this treatment should be safe to add to other therapies. We're also fairly sure this means that White Russians are an immortality serum for a perfectly balanced brain. Truly, The Dude had it worked out all along.

Liver Lifesaver

That's not the only reason to drink alcohol and caffeine. They're also delicious and productive, and without them the Cracked offices would resemble an accountant's tomb. Oh, and your risk of cirrhosis drops 22 percent with every cup.

It's tequila time tonight!

A study of over 120,000 people found that death by liver cirrhosis decreases with coffee intake. Note that it's a 22 percent reduction compared to the value from the previous cup, so five cups won't give your liver the ability to regenerate by 110 percent when exposed to alcohol. No, instead you'll only have reduced your risk by a piddling 73 percent. (We do mean piddling. Five cups of coffee is a non-trivial bladder event.)

He's pissing his way to immortality.

A more recent study found that drinking two or more cups daily cut the risk of chronic liver disease in half. Brilliantly, this only applies to people already at higher risk due to heavy alcohol intake or obesity. Coffee isn't a vice; it protects you from other indulgences. A drug hasn't been this magically tempting since '80s cartoons. But you have to do it properly. Multivariate-adjusted analysis showed that the hazard ratio was halved by proper ground coffee, but actually increased 30 percent by decaffeinated or instant coffee. Because if you're going to disrespect coffee, it'll disrespect you back right in the liver.

GASTROENTEROLOGY 2005;129:1928–1936
Insulting the barista gods is unwise.

Also, Hazard Ratio is now the name of our action movie starring an actuary who plays by his own rules.

Actual Lifesaver

If you've ever complained that you can't survive without your morning coffee, you're a whiner, but one-eighth correct. The cirrhosis study above also revealed that the rate of suicide drops by 13 percent for every cup of coffee consumed daily. True, those people were all Californians, but it's probably applicable to the rest of the species, too. (When people build a megalopolis on a known fault line, they're clearly more vulnerable to suicidal effects.)

Californians view tectonic timebombs as wacky neighbors.

We're all familiar with the feeling. Before your morning coffee, the world really doesn't seem worth the effort. Another study followed over 86,000 women for eight years, which is something you can do without being arrested if you're a scientist. They found that two or three cups daily cut the relative risk of suicide to 34 percent. And these weren't average people -- they were registered nurses, people whose job description is "See all the horrible shit that can happen to people."

"Coffee makes the daily genital wart discharges bearable!"

Java doesn't just make you do more, and do it better: It makes you want to do it more and for longer.

Luke McKinney's favorite coffee is the Black Blood of the Earth, an experimental ultra-coffee brewed by a radiation expert who trains bomb squads in nuclear device disposal, and used to be barman at the South Pole. Really. Luke is much less interesting, but still tumbles and has a website.

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