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Could caffeine reduce the chance of women developing dementia?

If you’re a woman who loves to indulge in a daily cup of coffee or you can’t get through the day without several cups of tea, you’ll be pleased to know that a recent study carried out by a team of scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee has found an association between higher intakes of caffeine and a reduced risk of developing some kind of cognitive impairment or dementia.

The study, which was published in a recent edition of The Journals of Gerontology, analysed the caffeine consumption of a group of older women. Their analysis showed that a daily caffeine consumption in excess of 261mg per day was associated with a 36% reduction in the risk of developing dementia within 10 years. This amount of caffeine is equivalent to drinking two to three cups of coffee per day or five to six cups of black tea. If you’re a cola drinker, you’d need to drink seven to eight cans of the soft drink to ingest this amount of caffeine.

The findings from this study have added more weight to the idea that caffeine offers a protective factor against dementia and cognitive impairment. Furthermore, this is particularly exciting as it’s relatively easy to add more caffeine into your usual diet and there are very few contraindications from doing so.

Lead author of the study, Ira Driscoll, PhD., has suggested that this study is unique in that the team had a unique opportunity to analyse the relationship between dementia and intake of caffeine in a large and well-defined group of women who were already taking part in the Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study. Data for the study was collected from almost 6,500 women aged 65 and over, via questionnaires which asked about their intake of coffee, tea and cola.

Each woman received an annual assessment of cognitive function over a period of 10 years, with 388 of the group being given a diagnosis of either dementia or some form of cognitive impairment within this time. The women who consumed higher than average amounts of caffeine were diagnosed at a lower rate than those women who reported consuming less than the average amount of caffeine.

While the researchers are reluctant to make a direct link between consuming higher amounts of caffeine and a lower risk of dementia or cognitive impairment, they suggest that further research will prove beneficial to find ways to effective preventative treatments.

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