Researchers discovered that daily consumption of caffeine helps reduce the incidence of dementia in elderly women. The ideal amount was 261mg per day, which is equivalent to two or three 8-ounce cups of coffee per day or eight 12-ounce cans of cola.

The study followed 6,467 women aged 65 or older, and it appears that the incidence of dementia was reduced by 36 percent among those who consumed caffeine. Because the substance is so readily available in any person’s diet, researchers showed excitement when they confirmed that the organic chemical compound can reduce the off-chance of being diagnosed with dementia. The study was led by Dr. Ira Driscoll from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Elderly woman drinking coffee
Americans drink more than 400 million cups of coffee every day. Image credit: Shutterstock.

Researchers recruited 6,467 women in postmenopausal stage who continuously ingested caffeine in their early lives. The study took note of whether they drank coffee, tea, or cola, the frequency of intake, and how much they drank at a time.

After 10 years of following, 388 participants were diagnosed with dementia or a similar cognitive impairment. The ones that took more than 261mg of caffeine per day were diagnosed with the disease at a minor rate. Researchers took into account age, race, sleep quality, hypertension, diabetes, alcohol consumption, and many more factors to effectively determine that caffeine was the critical component in preventing dementia.

A constant caffeine intake is related to higher blood pressure and spikes on blood sugar levels. Caffeine can also cause stomach problems, sleep disturbance, incontinence, and may even increase the risk of miscarriage. Before rushing to triple coffee intake, patients are advised to ask their physician if a substantial increase in the amount of ingested caffeine would be healthy.

“While we can’t make a direct link between higher caffeine consumption and lower incidence of cognitive impairment and dementia, with further study, we can better quantify its relationship with cognitive health outcomes,” said Dr. Driscoll.

What caffeine does to our body

Caffeine blocks adenosine receptors, a brain molecule that stops our brain cells from becoming overstimulated. Because caffeine blocks these receptors, the brain is open for increased cellular stimulation. Caffeine does cause withdrawal and dependence, although its symptoms are much tamer when compared to other substances.

Caffeine has been proven to decrease fatigue and improve cognitive functions. A daily consumption of sugarless black coffee has not been linked to any major health risks. Furthermore, it may even help prevent colon cancer, type 2 diabetes, liver cancer, Parkinson’s disease and more; although it is a risky substance for people suffering from hypertension.

Woman, coffee
“Up to 400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine a day appears to be safe for most healthy adults. That’s roughly the amount of caffeine in four cups of brewed coffee, 10 cans of cola or two “energy shot” drinks,” said Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Image credit:

The effects of caffeine also vary depending on the person. Some are very sensitive to caffeine while others can develop a high tolerance and an inherent need for coffee to carry on through the day. The bottom line is that caffeine is far more beneficial than it is harmful, but only when taken in moderate amounts.

Source: Oxford Journals