Drinking coffee is linked to a reduction in memory loss risk of up to 70%, research finds.
Three or more cups of coffee a day is associated with better memory over time than drinking only one cup.
Women over 80-years-old were 70% less likely to develop dementia if they drank three or more cups of coffee a day.
Those over 65 saw a drop in risk of 30% if they drank three or more cups.
The study included 7,017 people who were followed for four years.
Their cognitive performance was tested, along with their caffeine consumption.
The protective effect against memory loss was only seen in women in this study.
Dr Karen Ritchie, the study’s first author, said:
“Women may be more sensitive to the effects of caffeine.
Their bodies may react differently to the stimulant, or they may metabolize caffeine differently.”
However, other studies have since shown neuroprotective effects in men as well.
Dr Karen Ritchie, the study’s first author, cautioned:
“While we have some ideas as to how this works biologically, we need to have a better understanding of how caffeine affects the brain before we can start promoting caffeine intake as a way to reduce cognitive decline.
But the results are interesting — caffeine use is already widespread and it has fewer side effects than other treatments for cognitive decline, and it requires a relatively small amount for a beneficial effect.”
While coffee seemed to have a neuroprotective effect, the rates of dementia were the same in people who drank coffee as those who did not.
This suggests caffeine may help to delay dementia, rather than preventing it.
Dr Ritchie said:
“We really need a longer study to look at whether caffeine prevents dementia; it might be that caffeine could slow the dementia process rather than preventing it.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Neurology (Ritchie et al., 2007).