How to

19 January 2017

Cigarettes and Caffeine Make You Colder

As we know, the things we love end up destroying us. But sometimes, nature just seems to be winding us up for no good reason. We’ve written before about how caffeine can make you overheat. But, as it turns out, the substance to which everybody is hopelessly addicted is also capable of making us terribly cold. Indeed, the same is true of cigarettes – another modern habit which, similarly, is undeniably bad for us. If there’s no way to win with these consumables – and if we can’t simply kick them out – then we might as well understand why they’re making us both sick and cold, if only for clarity’s sake.


There are two ways in which caffeine can jeopardise our toasty temperatures: relating to blood flow and the stress which the substance can induce.

As Elizabeth Ratchford, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Johns Hopkins Center for Vascular Medicine explains, caffeine causes sudden constrictions in our blood vessels and can contribute to the rapid onset of Raynaud’s phenomenon – in which blood vessels spasm and block the flow of blood to the skin.

The consequence of such circulatory issues is that we end up feeling much colder. Blood is the body’s superhighway for heat transfer: and if it’s finding it hard to access a certain area, parts of the body could rapidly lose heat.

The only remedy, if you are suffering a coffee- or tea-induced cold snap, is to wait it out. You may find this difficult due to the stress and anxiety which these products tend to cultivate. However, you can at least draw solace from the fact that you most likely aren’t actually in danger: after all, feeling cold doesn’t necessarily mean you are cold. In fact, the restriction of blood flow to your vital organs means your core is likely to be warmer than usual.

Still, best avoid caffeine if possible and choose lemon tea instead. 


Unfortunately, the same can’t quite be said of cigarettes which, besides being carcinogens, are also unquestionably bad for you by virtue of their being likely to cause circulatory problems more fundamental than Raynaud’s (although they can cause that, too). 

Toxins in cigarettes congest arteries, contributing to PAD and atherosclerosis. Not only do the levels of plaque bequeathed by these disorders pose a worrying risk of heart attacks; they also entail that blood circulation is worse throughout the body as a whole.

So, not only will you feel unwholesome – you’ll also most likely be so.

Consequently, doctors recommend we steer clear of both caffeine and cigarettes – not only to keep us warm, but also to help us avoid a depressingly long list of health disorders. Unfortunately, these are difficult substances to give up. Still, for our own good and our own thermal comfort, we probably should give quitting a try. 

James Stannard

James has a Bachelor’s degree in History and wrote his dissertation on beef and protest. His heroes list ranges from Adele to Noam Chomsky: inspirations he’ll be invoking next year when he begins a Master’s degree in London.