Hannah Richards

High caffeine intake in older women is associated with reduced odds of developing dementia or other cognitive impairments, according to the results of a recent study.

Research conducted by Dr Ira Driscoll found that postmenopausal women who consumed more caffeine a day were at lower risk of developing dementia and other cognitive problems. The data came from participants in the Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study. Driscoll and colleagues examined data from 6,467 postmenopausal women, who self-reported their daily caffeine intake by frequency and serving size. The cognitive function of the women was assessed annually by trained technicians for a period up to 10 years, 388 participants received diagnosis of probable dementia.

Caffeine intake and time taken to display signs of dementia and cognitive impairment were analysed. The results were then adjusted to take into account other dementia risk factors including age, BMI, race, hormone therapy, sleep quality, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, smoking and alcohol consumption.

The results found that women who consumed more than 172mg of caffeine per day (approximately two cups of coffee) had a 26% lower risk of developing dementia compared to women who drank less.

It is known that caffeine binds to adenosine receptors in the brain, the study results suggest a potential mechanism to investigate in order to understand how caffeine can provide protection against dementia.

Caffeine is an easily modifiable part of our diet, it is therefore important to quantify its relationship with cognitive function and understand the underlying mechanisms with regards to preventing dementia. This is especially important as dementia is a growing concern in the aging population.

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Duncan Michie

Science and Technology Editor

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