I’ve made no bones about my affinity for music, especially anything visceral and loud. This whole coffee gig is just a stopgap until my anarcho-doom-post-hardcore band makes it big. But this is why I find Science’s newest smear campaign against coffee to be particularly disconcerting. A new study shows that caffeine may actually impede one’s ability to recover hearing after exposure to loud noises.
First reported by Consequence of Sound, the study performed by the McGill University Auditory Sciences Laboratory involved three groups of eight female albino guinea pigs to a different set of stimuli: 25mg/kg caffeine (roughly 12.5mg, which is a lot. There are 95mg in an 8oz cup of coffee, and that has an effect on a full-size human), 110-dB of “pure tone sound,” or both.
Over the course of the 15-day experiment, the adorable little fur balls received doses of caffeine daily and one-hour “acoustic overstimulation events” weekly, on days one and eight. Concerts generally range from 100- to 120-dB, so the 110-dB noise falls squarely in the good-time zone.
The results of the test show the group of guinea pigs receiving both caffeine and loud sounds recovered their hearing at a drastically reduced rate compared to the noncaffeinated group. And the results got worse as the test went on. After the first round of acoustic overstimulation, the affected group had fully recovered hearing at all but the 20-kHz range, but that grew to include the eight, 16, and 25-kHz ranges after the second round.
The full study was published in the scholarly journal JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surgery and can be read here. It doesn’t bode well for the coffee-addled concert-goer. But it’s not like I’m going to let a few guinea pigs dictate my life.
And why did they give that one octad all that caffeine anyway? They didn’t expose them to any sound. Seems cruel. It’s bad science and I won’t abide it.
Zac Cadwalader is the news editor at Sprudge Media Network.