Drinking coffee may do more than just keep you awake. A new study, published recently in The Journal Of Alzheimer’s Disease, suggests it may keep dementia at bay too.
A team of Swedish and Danish researchers tracked coffee consumption in a group of 1,409 middle-aged men and women for an average of 21 years. During that time, 61 participants developed dementia and 48 had Alzheimer’s disease.
After considering numerous socio-economic and health factors, including high cholesterol and high blood pressure, the scientists found that those who drank three to five cups of coffee daily were 65 per cent less likely to have dementia, compared to those who drank two cups of less. People who drank more than five cups a day were also at reduced risk of dementia, but there were not enough people in this group to draw statistically significant conclusions.
Dr Mia Kivipelto, an associate professor of neurology at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and lead author of the study, does not as yet advocate drinking coffee as a preventive health measure. “We have no evidence that for people who are not drinking coffee, taking up drinking will have a protective effect.”
Dr Kivipelto and her colleagues suggested several possibilities for why coffee might reduce the risk of dementia. First, studies have linked coffee consumption to a decreased risk of Type 2 diabetes, which has been associated with higher risk of dementia.
In animal studies, caffeine has been shown to reduce the formation of amyloid plaques in the brain, one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease. Finally, coffee may have an antioxidant effect in the bloodstream, reducing vascular risk factors for dementia.
Dr Kivipelto noted that studies have shown coffee drinking may also be linked to a reduced risk of Parkinson’s disease.
- The New York Times