Coffee, Alzheimer’s and dementia

Big Cup of Coffee by Avital Pinnick http://www.flickr.com/photos/spindexr/4852177569/ Licensed under Creative Commons

Having a coffee is a regular occurrence for many of us, be it to break through the morning fog, for that perfect cup at a favourite café, or to help you through the late night chores.

I used to drink around four mugs of percolated coffee a day. When it occurred to me that this was probably a bit excessive. I cut down and became extremely grumpy, had nasty headaches, and lived with a hazy feeling for around week. Interpreting this as some type of withdrawal – surely coffee wasn’t good for me?

Interestingly, a study suggests drinking a number of cups of coffee a day could actually be a great benefit.

Eskelinen and colleagues (2009) used a random selection of survivors from two large population-based cohorts from studies in the 1970’s and 1980’s. There were 1409 individuals aged from 65 to 79 years old, who completed the follow-up survey in 1998. Results showed that people that drank coffee at midlife had a lower risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease later in life, than those who did not drink coffee or only a little. People who drank 3-5 cups per day were found to have the lowest risk (65% decrease).

So maybe that extra cup of coffee is not so bad after all…


One Response to “Coffee, Alzheimer’s and dementia”

  1. Sam Theman says:

    Hi Fiona,

    Being an avid coffee slurper (red wine drinker, beer drinker, chocolate eater, potato chomper et all other things bad for you) I always love these stories when they come out. When you have one of those very smart automated home coffee machines nearby in our office, its hard not to over-indulge (Cappuccino Please – Push Button mmmmm!!).

    But when I read your article I hope the near automated survey assembly of the results didn’t skew them and that allowances were made for this.

    For instance, what if a higher proportion of the ‘tea only’ drinkers were dying earlier due to the something induced by the tea/or something induced by a lack of coffee, yet the tea had a more positive effect on reducing Alzheimer’s/Dementia? As the remaining sample group of aged tea drinking non Dementia sufferers was smaller, the coffee group could therefore be over-represented in the results. It is also difficult as the tea or coffee drinking at mid-life Alzheimer’s/Dementia patients may not remember that they used to drink either beverage at mid-life or possibly even this morning.

    For these reasons I take a wide view of nutritional intake. Eat more from the countries where people live the longest and less from countries where they don’t. Plenty of Chinese/Japanese diet and less of western foods. Does it work? Who knows, but I am sure some future study will tell me!! Hopefully I am one of the cohorts still around to be asked…. 🙂