New research suggests the protective effect of coffee on lower mild cognitive impairment risks may depend on how coffee consumption habits change over time
Dr. Vincenzo Solfrizzi, of the University of Bari Aldo Moro in Italy, and colleagues monitored 1445 people aged 65-84 for 3.5 years, through their coffee consumption habits. The study they conducted observed the relation between coffee drinking habits and the incidence of of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) in elderlies.
Declined cognitive abilities, such as memory and thinking skills that are usual symptoms of MCI, are considered to be a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia.
The results of the study were the following:
– Healthy participants who increased their coffee consumption to more than one cup daily were twice as likely to develop MCI than those who reduced their coffee consumption to less than one cup a day.
– People who, over time, increase their coffee consumption are also prone to develop MCI when compared to people whose coffee consumption level remains stable (one cup each day).
– At the same time, people who rarely or never drink coffee have a higher risk of developing MCI than people who moderately drink coffee.
“These findings from the Italian Longitudinal Study on Aging suggested that cognitively normal older individuals who never or rarely consumed coffee and those who increased their coffee consumption habits had a higher risk of developing MCI. Therefore, moderate and regular coffee consumption may have neuroprotective effects also against MCI, confirming previous studies on the long-term protective effects of coffee, tea, or caffeine consumption and plasma levels of caffeine against cognitive decline and dementia”, the researchers said.
Caffeine may also reduce the damaging effects of beta-amyloid, a protein that blocks communication between nerve cells in Alzheimer’s disease. Further studies will try to determine what exactly is the link between coffee and MCI protective effect.
“Larger studies with longer follow-up periods should be encouraged, addressing other potential bias and confounding sources, so hopefully opening new ways for diet-related prevention of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease,” they concluded.