Finally Scientific Proof Supporting Two College Vices


College kids drink a lot.  Most of that probably isn't water.  Judging by the lines at Dunkin, Starbucks and any other speciality coffee store each morning, students thrive on their caffeine fix each morning.  Whether we want to admit it or not, many studies have show that a majority of college students have "alcoholic tendencies" by drinking enough alcohol to technically qualify them as an alcoholic.  It is widely proven and accepted that caffeine is bad for your heart/blood pressure and alcohol has a negative effect on your liver.  But could these two popular college vices help your genome?

A study from Tel Aviv University's 

Department of Microbiology and Biotechnology

has isolated telomere, the end points of our genomes, as a contributing cause of aging and cancer.  They wanted to figure out what factors affect the telomere in hopes to fight diseases in the future. "Most of the stressors -- from temperature and pH changes to various drugs and chemicals -- had no effect on telomere length.  But a low concentration of caffeine, similar to the amount found in a shot of espresso, shortened telomeres, and exposure to a 5-to-7 percent ethanol solution lengthened telomeres."

Before we all go running to Dunkin and the state store for our caffeine and alcohol fixes, Professor Kupiec urges us to recognize there is much more research to be done before we can be sure that alcohol and caffeine have these positive genomatic effects. While more laboratory work needs to be done to prove a cause and effect relationship as opposed to just correlation, she recommends we all "Try to relax and drink a little coffee and a little beer." Doctor's orders!


Hi Rachel, this is an interesting topic, but it is not a very helpful post because all you really did was quote the whole article. It would be nice if you elaborated on why we should care that caffeine shortens telomeres and that alcohol lengthens them. For instance, the article explains how if telomeres are shortened, eventually they can become cancerous.

"Every time a cell duplicates, the chromosomes are copied into the new cell with slightly shorter telomeres. Eventually, the telomeres become too short, and the cell dies. Only fetal and cancer cells have mechanisms to avoid this fate; they go on reproducing forever."

It is important to keep this concept in mind when thinking about how caffeine shortens the telomeres. This means if caffeine consistently shortens telomeres, it could be very harmful to humans because we consume large amounts of coffee, and according to the concept above, that could mean that coffee could eventually cause cancer. However, like you said, it has not yet been proven. It is only a correlation, meaning that drinking coffee and alcohol doesn't CAUSE cancer. Therefore, one shouldn't refrain from drinking coffee and alcohol if he/she likes to do so.

As someone who found Andrew's class about his genome extremely interesting, I also was intrigued by this post. I was also intrigued by this post as someone who is a frequent visitor to the Starbucks in the Hub...and the library...and downtown...but I digress. There are many other benefits to caffeine outside of a possibly stronger genome ( and, drinking a glass of wine a day can actually help your heart by blocking the fat cells which can block arteries and lead to heart disease (

I would agree that we would have to see wayyyy more evidence before taking the study seriously. There are still many negative effects both caffeine and alcohol have on your body. If this were to be true, wouldn't we have already seen a difference considering the amount of caffeine and alcohol Americans consume? I am very skeptical. While caffeine isn't proven to cause cancer, alcohol certainly does. Here is an article elaborating on cancer linked to alcohol:

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