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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Too much caffeine may raise black teens’ blood pressure

Linda Searing The Washington Post

The question: The typical teenager consumes a growing amount of caffeine from soft drinks, coffee, tea or chocolate. Might this contribute to the rising blood pressure readings among American youth?

This study called for 159 white and black teenagers to eat for three days from a list of low-sodium food and drinks containing varying amounts of caffeine. The researchers calculated the amount of caffeine each person consumed and measured the participants’ blood pressure at the end of the experiment. Among the white teens, caffeine consumption seemed unrelated to blood pressure. But among the black teens, the 11 who took in the most caffeine (equal to about four 12-ounce cans of soda daily) had an average systolic, or top-number, blood pressure of 119, about 13 points higher than that of the 70 black teens whose diets contained less caffeine or none at all.

Who may be affected by these findings? Black teenagers. Hypertension occurs more often and at an earlier age among blacks than among members of other racial groups in the United States.

Caveats: This study was small and not randomized. Also, the study did not account for lifestyle factors such as exercise, smoking and other food choices that may have affected blood pressure.

Bottom line: Black teenagers may want to monitor the amount of caffeine in their diet.

Find this study: May issue of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine; abstract available online at www.archpediatrics.com.

Learn more about blood pressure concerns for teenagers at http://kidshealth.org/teen and at www.americanheart.org (search for “blood pressure”).

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