Caffeine is associated with reduced odds of developing dementia and cognitive impairment in women, according to a study published in The Journals of Gerontology.
The research, by scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, reveals that women over 65 who report caffeine consumption of more than 261 mg per day are 36 per cent less likely to develop dementia over 10 years.
This is equivalent to two to three cups of coffee a day, five to six cups of black tea, or seven to eight cans of Coke.
Ira Driscoll, the study’s lead author, said: ‘The mounting evidence of caffeine consumption as a potentially protective factor against cognitive impairment is exciting given that caffeine is also an easily modifiable dietary factor with very few contraindications.
‘What is unique about this study is that we had an unprecedented opportunity to examine the relationships between caffeine intake and dementia incidence in a large and well-defined, prospectively studied cohort of women.
‘While we can’t make a direct link between higher caffeine consumption and lower incidence of cognitive impairment and dementia, with further study, we can better quantify its relationship with cognitive health outcomes.
‘Research on this topic will be beneficial not only from a preventative stand point but also to better understand the underlying mechanisms and their involvement in dementia and cognitive impairment.’
A study published in Circulation last year found that moderate coffee drinkers had a reduced risk of death from diabetes, cardiovascular disease and neurological diseases.
Anecdotal evidence has suggested for some time that drinking coffee may be helpful for our memory but hard evidence has been lacking. Although by no means a definitive study, this 10-year assessment of caffeine and memory does appear to suggest this may now be the case.
Drinking a level of caffeine equivalent to two cups of coffee or six cups of black tea a day over a 10-year period seemed to show a reduction in age-related memory decline by around one third.
The exact reason for this remains unclear, and much more work needs to be done before doctors start advocating caffeine as a way to reduce dementia risk, but it may now be one more reason to enjoy your regular cup of coffee in the morning.
Research score: 2/5