The relationships among caffeine, stress, and cortisol secretion will also be of interest to Dartmouth’s caffeinated masses. Repeated doses of caffeine over a single day result in markedly increased cortisol levels, regardless of the stressor involved or the sex of the individual. Although the extent of the link has not been fully elucidated, a positive relationship clearly exists between caffeine intake and cortisol release, and this relationship is exacerbated when other stressors are introduced. Thus, supplementing a lack of sleep with multiple cups of coffee or energy drinks actually reinforces the negative effects of the stress response and further undermines performance. The benefits of caffeine intake must be balanced with its implications for cortisol secretion. (18)
For people with chronic conditions who need to take corticosteroid medications, such as prednisone or dexamethasone, in pill form or through an intravenous infusion that could cause bone loss, drugs are available to help prevent osteoporosis. Medications used to treat osteoporosis — alendronate (Fosamax), ibandronate (Boniva), risedronate (Actonel), zoledronic acid (Reclast) or teriparatide (Forteo), for example — have also been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to decrease bone loss in those taking long-term corticosteroid therapy.