Roughly two-thirds of Americans have at least one cup of coffee every day, making it one of the most popular beverages in the country. But for those who regularly drink it — especially those who consume a lot of it — could all that coffee lead to adverse health effects, such as dementia or other brain conditions? A group of scientists wanted to find out.
Researchers at the University of South Australia Cancer Research Institute decided to look into if there was a link between coffee consumption and general brain health, as well as cognitive degeneration. Almost 400,000 participants were regularly surveyed over the course of eight to 12 years and asked about their coffee drinking habits during that time period. More than 17,000 of those subjects also underwent at least one brain MRI during the study to get a better sense of its composition.
Here’s a little good news: Scientists found that people who regularly drank a moderate amount of coffee every day (roughly 300 milligrams of caffeine or five or fewer cups per day), didn’t see an increased risk of dementia. They also didn’t find evidence that stroke was a risk factor of coffee consumption. However, those who drank six or more cups reported a 53 percent uptick in dementia risk in addition to smaller brain volume, which can impact cognitive function in older age.
Researchers are quick to point out that their study focused on self-reported data and didn’t necessarily specify different types of coffee, so there needs to be more work on the effects of fully caffeinated coffee drinks versus decaf beverages or espresso on brain health and dementia. They’re also not exactly sure how the two are linked, but they believe that too much caffeine has adverse effects on brain matter.
Still, it’s helpful to know that having a cup or two of your favorite beverage every day won’t do irreparable harm to your mind!