Coffee: You'll stunt your growth, kid!

I’d say nutrition has a lot to do with growth, but I don’t know if coffee makes such a difference that it can’t be offset by say… drinking a lot of milk.

When I was growing up (hah!) a lot of my friends were zero’th-generation asian americans. The youngest ones, the ones who had been eating an american-style high-protien high-calcium diet for the longest, invariably towered over their parents and older siblings.

If caffiene washes calcium out of the system, then yes, I suppose that it will stunt one’s growth. But I’m sure that the effect is fairly small, and can be corrected for. Perhaps Cafe-au-lait for kids?

A counterexample: I’m over 190cm tall myself, and I have an uncle who’s over 2M tall. (Well, ok, he was… He’s in his 60’s now, and so some settling may have occured in transit.) We were both noted “caffiends” in our growing years, and so either caffene doesn’t have much effect on growth, or else my uncle and I would have grown to the point where whe could have threatened Tokyo, had we not had so much coffee.


Link to column: Does coffee stunt your growth? – CKDH

A few other things Cecil didn’t mention:

  • Recent studies have linked regular caffeine intake to a change in insulin levels, though the jury seems to still be out whether they’re good or bad. Apparently this can make diabetes worse for diabetics though (since the body loses its response to the injected insulin).

  • Apparently caffeine disrupts the action of estrogen, which is (even in males) an important regulatory hormone when it comes to the bone uptake/regrowth cycle; adult-onset osteoperosis isn’t caused by a calcium deficiency but by the regrowth cycle not happening (new osteoperosis drugs work by also suppressing the uptake cycle), so if the caffeine-estrogen link is true, then taking in more calcium probably won’t help with the osteoperosis issue. (On the other hand, other studies have found that it might be estrogen which blocks caffeine’s action instead!

  • Elevated caffeine levels have been linked to a higher risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, though there’s another estrogen link and I don’t think anything conclusive has been shown yet

I’m a Starbucks manager, and in the interest of helping my customers maintain healthy calcium lievels, I will now suggest a $3. latte instead of a $1.50 cup of coffee.

I feel much better now.

It looks like the gremlins ate my post to this yesterday. It was a bit wordy so i’ll take this as a blessing to make it more concise.

  I have a plausible theory as to how this rumor got started and why it behooves us to perpetuate it. I'll put it down, but I'll relate my personal story with this myth  first.
  I would pour myself a cup of coffee at church when I was a kid and my parents would always tell me that I shouldn't drink coffee because it would stunt my growth. I would, because of my disposition, say ''oh, ok.'', pour the cup and drink away. Now, I'm 6'2" and 240 lbs. by the way ( 182.88 cm and 108.862 kg for the non-Americans). I  have surmised that the whole ''coffee will stunt my growth'' probably wasn't true and if it was, I'm glad it did stunt my growth! Riding in cars and flying coach is misirable enough, thank you. 
 So about a year ago, I was pondering this myth about caffeine and its effects on growth and came upon a quite plausible origin for this myth. It consists of two constants of the human nature.
  1. Kiddos are hyper, loud, ancy, energetic, and gabby about the most relatively inane subjects.
  2. Any adult or teenager that has had to take care of kiddos for any length of time learns that kiddos are pretty gullible and ‘‘Inventing’’ a fact for them to ponder is a very effective tool to manipulate them . Often, it can be more effective than threats or corporal punishment ( i.e. ‘‘If you keep making that face, I could get stuck like that’’ or ‘’ If you do ‘that’ you’ll get hair on your palms.’’).
    So I speculate that an adult was observing a hyper, loud, ancy, energetic, and gabby kid under their supervision preparing a cup of coffee and they were afraid of that kid becoming only more hyper, loud, ancy, energetic, and gabby. This hypothetical adult concluded that this kiddo wanted to be taller and thus ‘‘grown up’’ as soon as possible (pretty safe bet I’d say). This adult invented this new ‘‘fact’’ and successfully steered a hyper, loud, ancy, energetic, and gabby kid away from coffee. It wouldn’t be implausible for this scenario to have happened in many places independently. So… That is my WAG.

Max, when you start a thread commenting on one of Cecil’s columns, it’s helpful to others if your provide a link to the Column. Yes, it’s on the front page today, but in a week or so it will have been sucked into the Archives. So, to be sure that everyone is on the same page, and to make it more convenient for everyone else, we ask that you provide a link when you start a thread.

No biggie, I’ve put one in at the bottom of your post. You’ll know for next time.

I don’t have much to add concerning the “stunts your growth” myth, but the article this discussion refers to did allude to a few other pro’s and con’s, if you will, to the consumptions of coffee. I was puzzled, however, when the writer neglected to mention the relatively recent findings that coffee may actually prevent colon cancer as this struck me as fairly big news when I first heard of this two or three years ago.

Lo and behold, I have found a very interesting article on this very subject. I knew I wasn’t crazy!