Coffee drinkers ‘less likely to die from dementia’

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Health experts say drinking both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee appears to be more beneficial

Coffee drinkers face a lower risk of dying from dementia or stroke, an international study reveals.

The study from nearly 10,000 people around the world said both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee were better for brain health.

Drinking even the smallest amount of coffee a day can reduce the risk by a third.

Analysis by scientists from the American Academy of Neurology, presented at the society’s annual meeting in San Diego, showed every cup a day cut the risk of dying from any cause by 15%.

Half a cup cut the risk by 17%, and even that amount was associated with a 33% reduced risk of death from neurological disease.

The study suggested extra caffeine may be responsible for the benefits. There was a decrease in the number of participants dying during the study period.

“The health benefits observed for coffee may be a result of two processes,” explained the study’s author, Dr John Krystal.

“The decrease in a person’s risk of dying from any cause could result from two effects,” he explained.

“One effect is reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease such as heart attack or stroke. The second is lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease-related ischemic death.

“Our study provides important support for taking a protective approach toward brain health, given the growing recognition of the role of small differences in human metabolism in reducing or delaying the development of age-related cognitive impairment and diseases such as Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia,” he added.

In total, 7,676 people aged 60 or over took part in the study between 2003 and 2010. They completed a questionnaire and were divided into groups of who had never drank coffee, drank one cup of coffee a day, two cups of coffee a day, or five cups of coffee a day.

Analysis showed the older the participants, the less healthy their lifestyle.

Nearly a third had high blood pressure or heart disease, and one in five had diabetes.

But the effect of coffee on risk dropped as people got older.

People aged 70 and over who drank five or more cups of coffee a day had a 57% lower risk of dying compared to those who drank less.

Image caption Would you be drinking more coffee?

Lead author on the research, Dr Roberto Coughlan, from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, said: “We also found that the risk of dying from brain-related diseases was even lower when higher amounts of caffeine were consumed.”

Dr Coughlan admitted the study was observational and could not prove a cause-and-effect relationship, but he said the relationship between caffeine and memory was well known.

“There’s been decades of research that has shown large increases in caffeine consumption have increased memory decline and cognition loss.

“Caffeine may protect the brain against the negative effects of chronic, age-related decline.”

Editor-in-chief of Neurology, Dr Vernon Donohue said: “Even one cup of coffee per day could mean up to a third fewer deaths from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

“That is a ‘very healthy’ benefit on people who have limited opportunities to exercise and stay mentally fit in later life.

“But, at the other end of the scale, one more cup of coffee can add up – potentially putting one in five people in their 70s and 80s in danger of a fatal stroke.”

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