Established 1826 — Oldest College Newspaper West of the Alleghenies

Study shows chemical in cheese makes it as addictive as heroin


By Leah McCloud, For The Miami Student

Cheese is everywhere - from the quesadillas at Serrano to the pizza at Sundial - and, without knowing it, students have become addicted to the familiar dairy product.

A recent study by the University of Michigan showed that cheese addiction is a real phenomenon that happens in the human body through casein releasing casomorphins as the product is eaten.

Casein is a chemical, found in all cheese products, that releases opiates called casomorphins during digestion. These opiates trigger addiction, and according to the study, the ones found in cheese are as addictive as opiates in drugs like heroin, codeine and morphine.

Health concerns related to the dairy product are also on the rise. Cheese can hold up to 113 calories in just one slice (one ounce), according to the Dairy Council of California.

But health risks aren't keeping Miami students away from their cheesy addiction. A survey of 150 Miami students conducted last week suggests that only 43 percent are concerned that cheese may be unhealthy in their diet.

Sophomore Alyson Wong said she is aware of the health risks associated with having too much cheese in her diet, but thinks it's still okay to eat.

"I'm not worried about it being healthy or addictive," she said. "I know it's not the greatest thing for me, and I know it's addictive, but it's good and will always be good. Everything in moderation.

Besides being addictive, other unhealthy qualities have been associated with cheese. Many cheese varieties are high in sodium, fat and cholesterol. That same slice of cheese that has over 100 calories can have over 400 milligrams of sodium - roughly a quarter of what is recommended for daily consumption by the American Heart Association.

The survey also showed that 73 percent of students eat cheese at least one to two times a day, and that 95 percent of that cheese consumption comes from pizza.

Miami offers pizza delivery from its dining location La Mia Cucina. Customer service coordinator Diane Hoeffer said the most popular food items are the three-cheese pizza and the three-cheese panini.

Student manager at La Mia Cucina Tyler Buckley said the dining location goes through 30 pounds of food a day.

Enjoy what you're reading?
Signup for our newsletter

"The delivery service has made it even easier to go through lots of cheese," he said.

The same survey asked college students to rank how addicted they think they are to cheese. Roughly 50 percent of the participants said they are very addicted and cheese is essential to their diet.

"Food isn't the same without cheese," Wong said. "Just imagine a world without pizza, mac n cheese bites, or mozzarella sticks. Yeah, I wouldn't want to live there either."