October 7, 2009

Coffee Does Not Seem To Protect Brain Function

Coffee enthusiasts will be sad to hear that drinking coffee daily may give them a visceral wake-up call, but researchers in Finland report that it does not appear to do anything as far as protecting the brain from mental decline or dementia.

Some previous studies have indicated that coffee consumption could serve to protect brain function in old age, but others have concluded that there is no association.

One of the most recent studies on coffee's effect on the brain, which is published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition's September issue, found no connection between coffee consumption and decreased mental cognition or dementia scores in either men or women.

Dr. Venla S. Laitala and colleagues from the University of Helsinki, estimated the value of coffee drinking habits, as well as other social, demographic, and health data, of a large population of pairs of twins who were 50 years old on average.

During that study, 75 percent of the men and 83 percent of the women consumed at least 3 cups of coffee each day. Only 4 percent of men and about 1 percent of women reported no daily coffee consumption.

When the observed group averaged a little over 74 years in age, the researchers conducted telephone interviews in 2,606 of the study participants (48 percent women) to screen specifically for declining cognition and dementia.

They discovered that each yearly increment of age was associated with declines in thinking abilities, regardless of whether they were male or female.

This particular study showed that middle-age coffee consumption did not seem to protect against "cognitive decline or preventive against dementia," Laitala told Reuters Health over email.

The investigators noted that other factors that were significantly associated with lower cognitive performance were heart disease, diabetes and dissatisfaction with life.

Because of this, Laitala's team say there should be further studies that focus on the effect that heart disease, diabetes, and life satisfaction have in altered and age-related thinking and analytic abilities.


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