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a science-based resource on coffee, caffeine, and health

Cognition and Aging

 

Independent research suggests that regular coffee consumption may help prevent age-related cognitive decline.


Studies show that coffee may pack a double punch against Alzheimer’s, Parkinson's, and other degenerative ailments associated with aging.

  

Moderate coffee consumption may reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease by up to 27%, according to a report from the Institute For Scientific Information on Coffee.  

 

In a 2007 study from the Netherlands, researchers found that men who drank coffee showed as much as 4.3 times lower incidence of cognitive decline than non-drinkers.  The results showed reduced cognitive decline at all consumption levels compared with non-coffee drinkers - beginning with as little as one cup per day and increasing with additional consumption. The scientists found the maximum benefit was seen in those drinking three cups of coffee a day.

 

Two American studies in 2009 found that the equivalent of five cups of coffee a day improved problem-solving tasks and reduced brain levels of beta-amyloid plaques. Analyzing their findings, the researchers said that, “Long-term coffee intake could be a viable strategy for reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and other diseases associated with aging.”

 

Recent review studies, which survey the existing body of scientific literature, put these findings in a larger context. A 2013 study 1 stated that coffee consumption “may somewhat attenuate the rate of cognitive decline in women,” but that no correlation between amount and effect has yet been established. However, the review notes “mounting evidence” of a potential protective effect for coffee, tea, and caffeine.

 

Another 2013 review 2  notes that coffee and caffeine are known to enhance short-term memory and cognition and that there is limited research suggesting that long-term use may protect against cognitive decline or dementia.

 

Another 2014 review concluded that epidemiological and pre-clinical data also support their hypothesis that caffeine might not only be a cognitive enhancer, but also a disease modifier in Alzheimer’s disease.

 

While the source of the potential benefit is not certain, caffeine  appears to be the likely candidate. However, research indicates that the protection may also come from coffee compounds such as magnesium and antioxidant compounds called phenolic acids.

 

Coffee and brain health continues to attract scientific attention, and new research will continue to emerge. 

 

 

1. Lenore Arab, Faraz Khan and Helen Lamb, American Society for Nutrition, Advanced Nutrition. 4:115-122, 2013

2. A.J Carman, P.A. Dacks, R. F. Lane, D. W. Shineman, H.M. Fillit, The Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging, Vol. 18, No. 4, 2014

3. Vanessa Flaten, Cyril Laurent, Joana E. Coelho et al., Biochemistry Society Transcript, 42, 587-592, 2014

 

Coffee and Age-Related Cognitive Decline

ISIC the institute for scientific information on coffee