Caffeine May Protect Against Cognitive Impairments and Dementia

by Patrick Yang

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Figure 1. Caffeine may decrease the likelihood of diagnosis of dementia among women.

 

The United States has the highest caffeine consumption in the world. In the U.S. alone, 54% of adults consume caffeine every day. Although caffeine does a fine job in keeping consumers alert, caffeine’s curative powers may go beyond just remedying morning grumpiness. According to animal studies, there is an inverse correlation between caffeine consumption and cognitive impairment and dementia. Although literature based on humans is not as conclusive, caffeine potentially has protective effects in humans.

In a recent study, Dr. Ira Driscoll of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and her colleagues observed the statistical correlation between caffeine consumption and diagnosis of probable dementia in women. A total of 6,467 women, aged above 65 years, participated in the study. Each woman provided self-reported caffeine data using a food frequency questionnaire that estimated caffeine intake frequency and serving size. In addition, participants had annual follow-up cognitive assessments over the course of 10 years to check for symptoms of dementia.

Driscoll and associate researchers found that the women who consumed above median levels of caffeine, or 261 mg, were approximately 36% less likely to develop symptoms of dementia than women who consumed less than the median level. Among the 6,467 women, 388 received diagnosis of probable dementia. This probability was adjusted to account for risk factors such as age, race, body mass index, and overall health. Although there is no clear cause and effect between caffeine consumption and cognitive impairment, there is an obvious correlation between the two. Further research will be needed to find the cause of this connection.

References:

  1. I. Driscoll et al., Relationships between caffeine intake and risk for probable dementia or global cognitive impairment: the women’s health initiative memory study. The Journal of Gerontology Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences (2016). doi: 10.1093/gerona/glw078.
  2. Image retrieved from: https://pixabay.com/en/coffee-cup-coffee-cup-caffeine-hot-631767/.
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