The Common Drink Linked To Brain Shrinkage

High consumption of the drink is linked to a 53 percent increased risk of dementia.

High consumption of the drink is linked to a 53 percent increased risk of dementia.

High coffee consumption is linked to brain shrinkage, a new study finds.

Over six cups of coffee a day is linked to a 53 percent increased risk of dementia, the largest study of its kind reveals.

Similarly, high consumption of coffee also increases the risk of stroke, by 17 percent.

The results come from an analysis including almost 18,000 people who were tracked as part of the UK Biobank study.

Ms Kitty Pham, the study’s first author, said:

“Coffee is among the most popular drinks in the world.

Yet with global consumption being more than nine billion kilograms a year, it’s critical that we understand any potential health implications.

This is the most extensive investigation into the connections between coffee, brain volume measurements, the risks of dementia, and the risks of stroke — it’s also the largest study to consider volumetric brain imaging data and a wide range of confounding factors.

Accounting for all possible permutations, we consistently found that higher coffee consumption was significantly associated with reduced brain volume — essentially, drinking more than six cups of coffee a day may be putting you at risk of brain diseases such as dementia and stroke.”

Dementia is a brain condition that affects memory, behaviour and thinking skills.

Six of the risk factors for dementia are:

  • high blood pressure,
  • heavy drinking,
  • genetics,
  • smoking,
  • depression,
  • and diabetes.

Stroke is when the blood supply to the brain is disrupted for a period.

Starving the brain of oxygen can cause brain damage and loss of function.

Balance is the key, said Professor Elina Hyppönen, study co-author:

“This research provides vital insights about heavy coffee consumption and brain health, but as with many things in life, moderation is the key.

Together with other genetic evidence and a randomized controlled trial, these data strongly suggest that high coffee consumption can adversely affect brain health.

While the exact mechanisms are not known, one simple thing we can do is to keep hydrated and remember to drink a bit of water alongside that cup of coffee.

Typical daily coffee consumption is somewhere between one and two standard cups of coffee.

Of course, while unit measures can vary, a couple of cups of coffee a day is generally fine.

However, if you’re finding that your coffee consumption is heading up toward more than six cups a day, it’s about time you rethink your next drink.”

The study was published in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience (Pham et al., 2021).

Author: Dr Jeremy Dean

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.

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