Drinking more than seven cups of coffee a day will make you more likely to hallucinate, say psychologists at Durham University.
In a new study published yesterday in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, scientists compared the coffee intake of students who tended to hear non-existent voices to the coffee intake of their peers who did not report hallucinations.
The students who drank the most coffee were three times more likely to have reported hearing voices in their head when compared to those who drank the least amount of coffee.
This is the first study to observe this effect of coffee on hallucinations. The authors note that hallucinations may not be caused by caffeine but could simply reflect the kind of people who drink lots of coffee.
Three percent of people regularly hear voices in their head, say the study authors. Many such factors are thought to be linked to hallucinations, in part because of their impact on the body's reaction to stress.
Students who are more prone to hallucinations may be using caffeine to help cope with stressful experiences.
Little research has looked at nutrition and hallucinations although there's some evidence that countries that eat a lot of sugar and saturated fat may have more mental health concerns than countries that enjoy a healthier diet.
Given the link between food and mood, nutrition researchers plan to further investigate how caffeine may impact on mental health and the tendency to hallucinate.
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